"The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-14 03:11pm

Short 35 - Saving The Planet Can Be Fun

It's bizarre how some cosmoses that would not really make sense in existing actually do exist out here. They're the ones that, if you observed them as a work of fiction, would make you scratch your head as to how they work. I mean, how do villains the equivalent of a Saturday Morning Cartoon villain operate effectively? Why do they do the convoluted plans that often show no real indication of profitable outcome?

I've met them from time to time. I believe the term is Outside Context Problem. Mostly them toward me. Although I admit to my share of raised eyebrows on my part. And the occasional facepalm.

I normally don't relay these meetings because they are inevitably awkward, possibly irritating, and quite boring. I make an exception for this one due to some reasons that shall become apparent.

It starts, of course, with the TARDIS deciding to take us somewhere I hadn't planned to go. Instead of the scenic valley I had planned it was some form of futuristic factory out in the middle of nowhere. We emerged on a roof top of the factory and looked out at vehicles ripping their way through what looked to be rainforest. "Well, so much for pleasant scenery," I sighed to the others. "I'm not sure we have room for Naga here, Korra."

Naga whined at that and hung her head low. "Sorry girl," Korra said apologetically. "We'll get you out for a good run when we find out what's going on." She gave Naga a reassuring pet on the muzzle before closing the TARDIS door.

I brought out my sonic and noticed some intriguing energy readings. "Well, that's interesting. Rather bizarre energy readings in this compound. Shall we?"

We entered the building's roof access and went down the stairs. The facility looked surprisingly unoccupied, or at least this structure. "I'm reading an enclosed air circulation system," I murmured to the others. "Looks to be in the central chamber." I pondered why such equipment would exist in what was clearly meant to be a logging operation.

Unsurprisingly I got my answer a minute later.

It was an execution chamber.

Which, of course, told me something of the nature of the builder.

The chamber was visible from the second floor, presumably for the enjoyment of spectators, but they weren't present. Although there was a very visible security camera looking into the chamber. One press of the sonic screwdriver caused it to shut down in a small shower of sparks.

"There are kids in there," Asami gasped in horror.

I looked in and saw shapes struggling in billows of evil gray smoke. "Korra!" I looked to her and then around. No windows. "Blast a hole in the wall!" I knew that would send a pretty big signal to whomever was running this place that someone was meddling, but given the sight below me I didn't have time to worry about that.

Korra turned and assumed a Firebending stance. Since the building was not made of earthen materials or metal, well, that's where powerful blasts of fire came in. With a couple of quick movements to build ferocious power, she thrust her hands forward and sent out a powerful blast of flame that slammed into the far wall and blasted it open. Daylight poured in.

"Now open the chamber and pull the toxic gas out, I'm going to find the shutoff valves!" I rushed away with Asami while Korra followed up blasting a hole in the gas chamber. Around a corner I found controls locked by a computer system. I brought out the trusty sonic screwdriver and began to override them. In the chamber the gas began to dissipate. Korra was using Airbending to draw the gas out and push it out of the hole in the wall she'd made. But this wouldn't be enough; I had to shut down the flow too.

"And just what are you doing?", an offended, refined voice said in a decent English accent.

I narrowed my eyes. I thought I recognized that voice.

I did recognize that voice.

I turned toward a screen and saw it flash into existence with a black background. Green color were used to form the image of a head. I narrowed my eyes in recognition.

Oh. Oh.

This world.

I almost facepalmed just for our luck. And that made it quite clear just who was in the gas chamber, too.

"I'll get around to you later," I declared, sonic screwdriver raised. With a press of a button I shorted out the screen. I returned to my work, overriding the remote control and taking local control back to shut the gas valves. With this vital task done, I checked on Korra. With the valves closed she was getting the last of the nasty gas sucked out of the chamber. This allowed me a clear look at the occupants of the chamber. Which only confirmed what I suspected.

They were indeed kids. Although not very young ones, rather adolescents and young teens. Although colors differed, they did have a uniform theme, with shorts and sleeveless vests (or pants and a jacket in one case) over shirts with a globe insignia.

They were missing the rings, though. Not entirely surprising.

I suppose my face showed recognition. Asami asked, "Do you know them?"

"The Planeteers," I sighed. "Because Earth spirits on this world tend toward irresponsibility in picking their champions."

Since we'd all been on the receiving end of a gas chamber thanks to the Red Lotus, Korra didn't need to be told the next step. She expanded the breach in the gas chamber and lifted the coughing, choking occupants into the hall with us with funnel clouds. She used Airbending to circulate fresh air around them. I ran scans to see if the gas had done any terrible damage. "Right on time, as usual," I said. "We got you out before the gas did its worst. Some fresh air and you'll be bright as rain."

"Who...are you?", the blonde - Linka, wasn't it? - managed between coughs.

"A wandering Time Lord with a propensity to get drawn into events like this," I answered. "Now, let's get you to the roof and some real fresh air and you can fill me in on what's going on here."

Whatever their answer would have been was drowned out by the crash of someone blasting through the wall opposite the one Korra made. A perfect waste if you ask me. But that does define the nitwits that these kids usually faced, doesn't it?

I did feel my eyebrows raise at seeing just who flew in. And that should clue you in on the problem since most of the ne'er-do-well rogues gallery of the Planeteers lack that "personal flight" capability.

"Well, it looks like someone's let the geeks out."

"Oi, that horrible voice," I growled. "That horrible 'evil surfer dude' voice. Seriously?!"

Captain bloody Pollution.

I hate these kinds of cosmoses, I swear.

His dirty red hair had that "Wolverine" look to it which only Logan could hope to pull off convincingly. While the nature spirit incarnate being he was based on was shiny steel blue and green hair in color, he was entirely sickly yellow with red. The globe symbol on his chest was fractured in two and he looked like he'd been scrounging around in a dumpster, which is fitting given what he was.

"Just what is he?", Korra asked.

"Captain Pollution," Gi - I definitely remembered that name - answered for me.

"Think of him as an evil spirit who wants to trash the world," I clarified for Korra.

"Isn't any 'want' about it, that's what I'm doing!" With that he raised a hand and sent a beam of light at us. I absorbed it with the sonic disruptor. Pure radiation, the nasty kind. Of course.

"How do we fight him?", Asami asked.

I glanced at Korra. "He's weak against, well... Water, Earth, Fire, and Air."

I actually chuckled at the devilish look that crossed Korra's face. "Then he's mine," she declared. She raised her right hand and a tight beam of flame lashed out and slammed Pollution back out the hole he'd come through.

"You got that idea from Harry, didn't you?", I asked quietly.

"Uh huh," she answered, her smile just as devilish as she charged to the hole. She made an Airbending motion as she came out of it.

I heard a distant "thump". Somehow I thought that the evil surfer dude was going to be in for a rough time.

Looking back and seeing the Planeteers were puzzled, I said, "Oh, sorry, that's Avatar Korra. She's from another world where the nations can bend the raw elements with their life force. As the Avatar she gets to bend all four. Without power rings. Now, where were we? Oh, yes. I'm a Time Lord, I travel the six dimensions with Companions to see the sights and occasionally deal with troublesome pests like your psychotic nature-hating foes. I have familiarity with a number of worlds, or cosmoses rather, including your own. Now." I wagged the sonic screwdriver in my hand. "I see you're lacking your rings. I suppose your enemies are responsible for that, hrm?"

"They took them when they captured us," was the answer I got from Kwame.

"Well, let's go about solving that, eh?" I held out the sonic screwdriver. "I think I'm going to get a laugh out of this."

"Wait, hold it." The American kid - Wheeler - stepped up beside me. "Just what are you, again?"

"Time Lord. Human-looking, but two hearts," I answered. "And a brain more advanced than anything on Earth. I try not to dwell on that though, in truth I rather like Humans and believe in giving you lot a helping hand whenever I can." I reached out and patted Asami on the shoulder. "And this is my other traveling Companion, Asami Sato. She's a friend of Korra's. Now that we have our introductions out of the way, you can introduce yourselves at your leisure while we go and deal with Pollution's friends."

Granted, I knew them all already, but I figured it was good for Asami. And for kids who had seen so much and done so much, I think I still overwhelmed them a bit. It happens.

There were mercenaries of some sort waiting for us outside the building's main door. They raised weapons and would have fired if I hadn't gotten to it first with the sonic disruptor. They all flew back from the impact. Asami went ahead of me, stunning them one after the other with her electric gauntlet. "She's good," Wheeler said, with a look in his eye that seemed, well, he was a young teen boy. "So, what kind of job does she normally do?"

"Oh." I allowed myself a thin smile at the imminent irony. "She's a wealthy industrialist and futurist." I looked back to see their faces. "They're not all lunatics who hate the environment, after all."

The last merc went down and Asami crossed her arms. "You know, I think I fight more now than I ever did working with Korra and the others," she pointed out with amusement evident in her voice.

"Much to my regret," I answered.

"Their control room is this way!", Linka shouted, jumping to the lead. She sprinted ahead and now I was the one following.

We rounded the building, then another, and finally came to a pair of metal doors with an electronic lock. I brought out the sonic and ran it over the keypad. After a couple of seconds the pad lit up with green and gave us admittance.

Inside was a large robotic drill. Given my scan it was powered by its own nuclear reactor. A haphazardly-assembled one that would leak unsafe amounts of radiation over time. Because that's how these idiots operated, of course.

The idiots in question turned to the door as we busted in. There was the blonde in the violet suit with half her face obscured by her hair, the green-suited corporate executive, the pudgy guy in the tan suit, the rat man in rags, the really fat guy in the brown suit, and the most dangerous one, the yellow rock-skinned mutant who shared a name with a rather irritating macho fellow I once ran into back when I was traveling with Jan and Cami. Yes, I know their bloody names, but I'm not saying them. I'd never be able to look myself in the mirror if I verbally pronounced names like "Verminous Skum" or "Lootin Plunder".

Seriously, this world is just messed up.

"He looks like a hog-monkey," I heard Asami mutter, looking at the fat one. The ironically named "Hoggish Greedly".... oh for the love of, where did they get these names?! No, "it's a TV show to spread environmental propaganda to children" doesn't work anymore, they bloody exist after all!

"So you're chopping down rainforest to drill with an unsafe machine that will leak radiation all over the place?", I said aloud. "Seriously, what is it with you people? Did an environmental activist run over your pets or something?"

"I don't know who you are, but I know radiation will still burn you!" The yellow fellow, Duke Nukem - okay, I'll use his name - in other words, threw a bolt of radiation at us. I absorbed it with the sonic disruptor.

"I'm activating the drill now!", Dr. Blight shouted, reaching for a remote control.

Asami got to her before she could trigger the device, grabbing her arm with her ungloved hand and catching her with her electric glove. Blight let out a cry and collapsed to the ground. Asami ducked and jumped away to avoid another radiation blast.

With the fight joined at this point I went to where I could do the most damage. I rushed to the computer. The same computer face I'd seen before popped up. "And just what are you doing?"

"Oh, giving you a little personality alteration," I answered as I turned on my sonic.

"Do you really think you can defeat my creator's vast gen.... Wait, what are you.... ah nooo!" The screen flickered and the face fizzed in and out as I did just that. I wormed through Blight's coding and made some quick on the fly alterations. The green turned to purple - obviously - and that Tim Curry-like voice said, "Ah, hello sir, how might I aid you?"

"Yes, Benny... may I call you Benny?"

"Of course."

"Yes, well, you can..." I had to duck and avoid the rat man, who had lunged at me. Asami got him with a kick to the face before he could strike at me again. "First off, where are the children's rings?"

"In the polarity inverter, of course," Benny - formerly Mal, and no I'm not going to explain the joke behind his renaming, look up some Latin if you want a clue - informed me. "They had to be used to make the rings that created Captain Pollution."

"Of course they did." I considered it a good thing that they'd let the Captain out to play, since it meant all the power in their rings was being taken up by his presence in the real world. As it was they still had physical advantages over young teens and pre-teens like the Planeteers. Too bad for them Asami was in the mix.

I heard a crash and saw the fat guy rolling over, the victim of a cart of tools flung by two of the Planeteers. Some rather decent bodyguards were chasing them about. One had already grabbed Ma-Ti by the arm and was pulling him away from the others. Or at least he was until Asami got him from behind with her electric gauntlet.

Still, forcing Asami to do most of the fighting... not wise strategy, that. I had to change the equation.

At my request, Benny opened the aforementioned polarity inverter. Five rings lay within. I grabbed them in one swipe of my hand. "Alright, I've got some power rings here that could use some wielders!"

The Planeteers responded and turned as I chucked the rings at them, taking quick glances to make sure everyone got the ones they needed. The moment she had her's, Linka pivoted on one foot, let out a cry of "Wind!", and a hurricane-strength gust of air threw a squad of responding mercenaries into the wall and door behind them.

"Earth!" Kwame's attack was focused on the flank. Much like Korra would have done with a sweep of her leg or a motion of her arm, the green light from the ring heralded a sudden growth from the earth; rock that threw off more of the enemy forces.

"Alright Benny," I said, returning my attention to the computer. "Be a friend and download all of your data into my device."

"Of course, sir!", he answered helpfully, engaging in doing just that.

"And while you're at it... just how did they get the technology to do all of this? I know these worlds can have wonky technological paradigms, but this is a bit much."

"Ah, we have had sponsorship from a most mysterious source."

"I imagined you did," I said. From what I knew of this world, I had a good idea as to whom. "Well, do me a favor and purge all of Blight's research data on this project. Every bit of it. And if you have any access to their bank accounts, give some generous anonymous donations to some environmentalist groups."

"Right away, sir!"

I raised my head and saw one of the villains, the toxic waste one, heading toward the drill robot. I imagined he intended a manual activation. "Hey!", I shouted. "Whatever your name is, toxic disposal person!"

Naturally, he didn't quite answer to that, but I didn't think he would anyway. And it really didn't matter because with a burst of the sonic disruptor he went flying. I ran up to the drill and opened up the power core. There was low level radiation leaking through. I frowned and saw the reason with the shoddy work around the containment vessel. "Bloody fools," I muttered. All I could do for the moment was keep the system shut down, but the radioactive material was still an issue. I'd have to put Korra's Metalbending to work with it.

There was an animalistic growl from the rat man, now sprawled out beside the radiation-spewing Duke Nukem. "You haven't won yet, Planeteers! When Captain Pollution gets back..."

I have to say, I'm really sure this world ran on Narrativium too. It would have had to given what happened. Part of the ceiling exploded inward and Captain Pollution came flying inside, snapping off the tip of the drill on the robot before crumbling to the ground. "Awww man, I need toxics...", he moaned.

Korra came rushing in with flame jets on her feet courtesy of Firebending. Streams of water surrounded her. Her arms moved and earth erupted from the ground to encase the nasty being. "Someone doesn't want a bath," she joked before bringing the water down on him and circulating it within his new stone prison. Pollution's cries grew weaker as the strength sapped from him. He finally dissipated. "So... anyone else?", Korra asked, sounding almost too eager.

I couldn't help but smile, though. Her posture, the twinkle in her eye... that was Korra as she had been before she was hurt. She looked more confident than she had since the Red Lotus.

"Their rings are going to work again," Linka warned, readying her own.

"The yellow one first!", Asami shouted to Korra, and Korra reacted. With just two arm movements she had Duke Nukem buried in the earth up to his neck, catching him before he could use his power ring. The sheer speed in which she had incapacitated their best bruiser took the fight out of the Planeteers' rogues, who didn't put up much struggle while Korra helped the Planeteers confine each with their elemental powers.

With water on hand thanks to Korra, Gi was already going after the last enemy standing - the corporate executive one - who shouted in angry defiance as the water washed over him, soaking him to the bone and knocking him over. Korra's Earthbending generated grips to bind his hands and arms to the floor.

I looked around. I was the first to see it was over. The opposing forces were either incapacitated or surrendering, with a few fleeing successfully in the chaos.

"Woh, we got them!", Wheeler shouted.

"Actually, we didn't," Kwame corrected. He looked to me. "None of this would have been possible without you. Thank you, sir."

"Thank you all." Gi nodded to Asami, who smiled and nodded back.

"So, you use those power rings to bend?" Korra walked up to us. "That's pretty cool."

Linka disagreed immediately. "No, what is... 'cool'... is that you don't need any."

"Before we let this become a congratulations ceremony, we have one piece of business," I said. I looked to Benny aka the former Mal. "Benny, did you find that communications protocol?"

"I did, sir! What would you like me to do?"

"Open it." I looked to the main desk. I had recognized a holo-emitter when I saw one, and it was the same that now activated. A dark-haired man's visage appeared, a glower on his face to show his irritation. "Ah, hello. You would be... Zarm, isn't it? Hello. I'm a Time Lord of Gallifrey. You may call me Doc, if you must."

"What is it to you?", Zarm asked.

"Nothing much. I'm just here to give a friendly warning, since that's my usual thing," I replied. "I've got one term for you, Zarm, and one only. Ignore it to your own peril. That term is... leave the Earth alone."

Anger flashed through the malevolent being's expression. "And why should I?"

"Because..." I glanced back at the Planeteers and then to the visage. "...this world is protected. It's protected by them and it's also protected by me. I rather like Earth and Humans, you see, and I don't take kindly to off-world spirits of anger and malevolence looking to foul it up to appease their raging egos. So consider this your fair warning. Stay away from this planet. Or you may find that Captain Planet is the least of your worries." I held up my sonic and terminated the call. "There. We're all done. And we didn't even need you to summon your friend."

"Actually, I think we'll need his help for cleaning this place up," Gi pointed out.

"Ah, well, be my guest."

So I watched them do their thing, contemplating that it did make the experience complete.




After some calls to local authorities were made it was time to leave. "You could come back to Hope Island and rest, if you want," Kwame offered.

"Ah, next time certainly. But we have an impatient polar bear dog who needs walkies in a nice, open valley."

The Planeteers looked at each other. "Polar bear... dog?", Wheeler asked.

I snapped my fingers and the TARDIS door opened. Naga squeezed out, bounded up to Korra, and pressed her muzzle up against her. Korra laughed. "Woh girl, we didn't forget you. We just had some business to do."

"What an amazing creature." Ma-Ti stepped up first and extended a hand. Naga chuffed happily and let him run his fingers through her white fur.

"Korra's homeworld has some interesting chimerical species," I said. "Some are not as enjoyable as others, though. I shan't burden you with spider-rats."

That prompted a few disgusted noises. "Ewwwh, no, please do not," Linka pleaded.

"It was good to have you all." We all looked up and watched Captain Planet land among the others.

"Pleasure is ours," I answered. "Do take care of yourselves, eh?"

"We all do our parts. The power is yours!"

I refrained from rolling my eyes at the catchphrase. It would have been the height of rudeness. And it would have ignored that there was truth in the statement anyway.

Naturally, at that catchphrase, the good Captain returned to his usual otherworldly abode and dispersed his powers back into the rings. With that done it looked like our meeting was about over.

"Can I ask something, Doc?"

I nodded at Wheeler. "Sure."

"You say you travel through time and different worlds and stuff, right?"

I nodded.

"Well... does it get any better?"

I nodded slightly. "I won't lie and say it always does. There are so many possibilities, and Humans are unfortunately quite capable of bringing about the worst." I extended a hand and put it on his shoulder while looking to the others. Wheeler was arguably the most cynical of the five, but I imagined all harbored some fears that it might be for nothing in the end. "Your species can be short-sighted, vain, and foolish about a lot of things. I understand it can be frustrating to deal with that. But I'll tell you now, I'm quite convinced that in your case, things will get better. Your world will find the balance between science and nature that gives you the resources you need to thrive and grow without damaging your world."

"Yeah," Asami chimed in. "I've seen it too. A lot of worlds get past our eras and into better ones. I'm committed to seeing that come about on my world and I'm sure you can do the same here."

The thought crossed my mind that the kids may have never heard an industrialist say those things. But I didn't interrupt. "Exactly. Humans can be all those terrible things, but you're so good at overcoming them. You adapt, you learn, and you thrive. So yes,your world will get better. And I think you'll play a pretty important role in it."

In their eyes I saw that they took heart from my words. Wheeler nodded and offered me his hand, which I took for a handshake. "Thanks... Doc, isn't it?"

"It's short for 'Doctor'," Korra said. "It's his old name."

"An old name," I corrected, "but not mine. I'll make due with another in good time."

"Well, I like it," Gi said. "You should go back to it."

I said nothing, keeping the faint smile on my face. There would be time to consider my name issues later.

After a final exchange of goodbyes, and the provision of a temporal beacon should I ever have to follow up on my threat to Zarm, our entertaining little meeting ended. Compared to the usual instances of such things, it was fairly memorable. Especially so for Korra. The fight with Captain Pollution was not a very fair one, I think, given the weaknesses of the latter, but it had given Korra a jolt of confidence, the jolt she'd been seeking for quite a while. The meeting had thus served its purpose, providing a landmark on her road to recovery.

Which, of course, also meant her departure from the TARDIS was soon at hand.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-15 09:52am

Special 2 - The Power of the Name

It was quiet in the TARDIS. Korra and Asami were napping away in one of the side rooms and I was alone in the control chamber. I found myself idly going through things, looking at what I'd collected in my travels.

So far our journeys had gone well for my friends. Asami had not been disappointed with the sights. And Korra... I could see the improvement now. She wasn't done healing, of course, but she was improving. All of the kind words and assistance she had received from various sources had worked to help her overcome the trauma Zaheer's group had inflicted upon her. The thought of seeing her regain that boundless confidence made me feel contented.

In the silence of the TARDIS control room my thoughts became louder. After all this time... I felt no closer to finding out who I was. What I had been was still closed off to me, either by the mind block or by my own choice to avoid the identity I had assumed. All I had left were the friends I'd made and the actions I'd taken. But I couldn't go on like this forever. I kept flashing back to how I'd looked to Molly Carpenter when she had viewed me with her Sight. A worn out, emaciated skeleton of a man who looked to be fading away.

Was that what I was doing? Fading away?

The old hurt came back. I sat on the steps leading to the door and focused, hard, on my mind. I demanded that infernal box in my head open. I shouted and screamed and plead with it. I directed my full mental capacity toward trying to scramble at memories that I couldn't even be sure were there. Even if I could just get to my name.

My head started hurting. I ignored it. "I want... my name," I rasped aloud.

The pain escalated brutally. I felt like my brain was being split open. And I still hung on.

Until everything went black anyway.




I woke up to feel my head still pulsing a little from pain. My hair also felt very wet.

Which, as it turned out, was because Korra was maintaining water over my cranium.

"Are you okay?", she asked, seeing I was opening my eyes. "I thought you'd fallen and struck your head."

"Not quite," I gasped. "I was just struggling with my mental block."

Korra helped me sit up. "I thought I felt something when I was trying to heal your head. It was like a.... a lump or a knot or something."

"I've heard it called a box in my mind, sealing away memories. Even the memory of having those memories over time," I answered.

Asami came through the door behind us, carrying a wet towel and some medicine. "Is he okay?", she asked.

"Bright as rain," I muttered. "Really, there's no need to fuss, I..."

The TARDIS engine suddenly VWORPed to life. We all turned toward it for a surprised moment. I jumped to my feet and went to the console. "Did any of you touch it?"

"No," Asami said. "What's going on?"

"She's activated herself. She's taking us somewhere," I said. I looked over the coordinates even as the TARDIS shuddered slightly. It was a familiar one. It was one I always got when entering certain quantum variability fields.

Which confirmed our arrival world even before I saw the coordinates.

I rushed to the door and opened it, looking to see where the TARDIS had deposited us. Would it be some crisis? Some war or natural disaster or what-have-you that demanded my aid to save lives?

As it turned out, not quite.

We emerged into a forested area that surrounded a quaint little cottage. I took in the view of it. it looked rather old and archaic, with thatch present on the roofing and a garden of gently swaying herbs, a goat pen, and even a constructed series of hives for bees...

Hives of bees.

I felt my mouth dry as I realized just where we were. I swallowed and waited for the other shoe to fall.

"Well, don't just stands there, I don't have all day," a wizened female voice snapped.

Around the side of the cottage a figure stepped up. She was clad in midnight black with a crescent moon clasp over the cloak around her shoulders. Her eyes fixed on us with impatience and, surprisingly, not the least bit of curiosity.

Well, okay, not very surprising, actually.

And I haven't yet mentioned that, yes, she had a hat on. A black one. A pointy black hat.

Granny Weatherwax.

The truth is, Esmerelda Weatherwax - "Esme" to, well, just one friend that I knew of - was not a grandmother. She had never married. Indeed, the only male suitor who'd ever pursued her was my good friend Mustrum Ridcully, and only a man of his bullheaded tenacity and courage could have maintained such a pursuit given the formidable nature of the woman in question. "Granny" was an honorific, you see, an informal title, and one rarely used to her face.

"Mistress Weatherwax," I said politely. "I am sorry for intruding, my TARDIS has a mind of its own..."

She stepped up to me. I was still a bit taller than her and I lowered my head to look down, such as it was, to keep eye contact. Of course, trolls on this world were also taller than her, and their name for Granny Weatherwax was Aaoograha hoa, roughly translated as "She Who Must Be Avoided". When an elderly woman makes a race of sentient rock say things like that, caution is only the beginning of wisdom.

"Well, you're here, ain't you?", she continued. "Might as well come in and tell me whats troublin' you."

I opened my mouth to spout a platitude about imposing. A combination of realization and desperate self-defense combined to choke the words in my throat and keep them from merging. "I would be honored," I managed.

Granny Weatherwax made a sort of "hmpf" sound and started toward the door of her cottage. I went to follow, looking back at my Companions. They had rather serious expressions. Clearly my behavior toward Granny Weatherwax had not gone unnoticed and it had a clear effect upon their own thoughts.

"Tell your young friends they can join us," Granny Weatherwax added. "I won't have 'em standing about and causing fuss with my bees."




The smell of freshly brewed tea was the primary sense when we were settled into chairs as guests. A white cat bounded up from a place along the floor to sit in her lap, looking at us with the kind of imperious look one expected from a proud feline. Granny Weatherwax adjusted where its weight was, grumbling "You" under her breath as she did so, before she sipped at her tea and looked at Korra. She had heard of me before and now she knew who my Companions were. "Well now, you're an interestin' one. Strong on the outside, but I can see you're not feelin' too well on the inside."

Korra shook her head. "I've been getting better though."

"Perhaps." Granny took another ship. "But I think the question is do you act'ally want to be better?"

Korra blinked. "What do you mean by that?", Asami asked, her curiosity overriding any reluctance to speak up.

"I've seen it before," Granny Weatherwax continued. "You gets used to being strong, then somethin' comes along and makes you feel weak. And it makes you a bit scared. Makes you think you might be safer if you stop being what you are."

"That's not what this is," Korra insisted, some heat in her voice.

"Isn't it? So you plan to go home soon, girl? Go home and get to work?"

"Well, maybe... soon?" I heard a bit of doubt in Korra's voice. "We're time traveling so it doesn't really matter that I do it now."

"Doesn't it?" Granny Weatherwax let the question sink in for a moment. "It can get mighty easy just travelin' around. You can always go back tomorrow, after all."

"Well, yeah..."

"And then tomorrow it's the same thing," she continued. "You says the same thing. Over and over. Easy to say, easier every time, and then you never go back."

Korra opened her mouth to protest and stopped. She remained silent for the moment. "Maybe I don't need to," she finally said. "I mean, Kuvira and the Airbenders are doing fine. Nobody needs me right now. They might not need me any more. And if they don't need me, maybe I shouldn't bother trying to be the Avatar anymore."

"Well, that's probably true," Granny Weatherwax agreed.

"That's not true at all!", Asami protested. "We always need the Avatar."

"Oh really? It doesn't sound like it to me." Another sip of tea was imbibed. "Of course, that's how things work, girl. People don't always need witches. They don't wants us much either, sometimes. Until they do, that is."

"What? That doesn't make any..." Korra stopped. I suspected she was flashing back to her conversations with Karrin Murphy and Murphy's comparing their jobs as well.

"We're not like cobblers or tailors or the like, girl," Granny Weatherwax said. "People don't always needs us. Until their Mam gets sick, or the little one's a bit peakish, or a first time mother's havin' a difficult time with her babe. Then they needs us. And they come callin' and we come answerin'. It's how these things work. We does different things, but that part is the same. People likes to think they manage on their own. You can't be hoverin' over 'em every hour of the day anyway. So you let 'em. You come when they need."

Korra sipped at the tea as she spoke. "I'm just tired of it," she said. "I just want it to be over. I want to move on."

"Then move on, girl. You has to do it yourself. Ain't nobody else can do it for you." Granny Weatherwax put the tea down. "Just make up your mind about it. You're not travelin', you're runnin'. Runnin' away from decidin' what you're goin' to be. Can't do that forever. Either decide to walk away or decide to get back to it, even if it means gettin' hurt again. But decide, child."

Korra lowered her head in thought. I took a sip of tea, enjoying the flavor a bit and trying to gauge Korra's thoughts.

Granny Weatherwax's head twisted to face me. "And you. I knows about you, Doctor. You faced down the Cunning Man down in the big city, saved the world from that hole and those spirits."

"Well, yes."

"Ain't been back in a while, either," she continued.

"I've had a bad time of it," I admitted. "And I'm not the Doctor anymore. I never was. It was just a name I borrowed from another, greater man, when I sought to live up to his standard. Or try anyway..."

Granny Weatherwax nodded as she recovered her tea. "So you says. Then who are you?"

"I...." I shook my head. "I don't know. My memories have been taken." My head throbbed as I thought of my recent failed attempt to reclaim them. "My name. Everything before I started traveling was taken from me. I don't even remember what species I am."

"So you decided to be like this other fellow, did you?" A sip of tea paused our conversation. "Did you?"

"Did I..." I realized what she meant and nodded. "Well, I suppose, yes. I'm not sure what I was like before, but from my knowledge of him, I have taken up quite a few of his habits."

"And so that's what you've become, man. That's who you are."

"But..." i closed my eyes and laid my tea cup to the side table so I could put my hands together. "I... I went wrong, Ma'am. Terribly wrong. I... I let the name go to my head. I became something terrible."

"Oh, did you?" Granny Weatherwax looked at me intently. "Let things go to your head, you say? Started thinkin' you could make what changes you pleased, force things to go your way?"

"Yes," I said. "I... I almost did something truly horrible. I almost destroyed entire worlds before a friend nearly sacrificed everything to stop me."

She nodded. "Tell me, did this fellow who's name you borrowed do the same?"

I thought for a moment. "Yes, at times, I suppose," I finally admitted, thinking of the Time Lord Victorious.

"Part of how things are." Granny Weatherwax picked up her tea kettle and refilled her cup before setting it back on the table beside her. "And what are you like now? Changing your ways any?"

"Well..." I swallowed. "I'm avoiding going too far. I suppose things are like they were before. Before I lost Katherine." I sighed. "I... I just want to know who I am now. Who I'm supposed to be."

Granny Weatherwax quietly laid her tea back down after I finished speaking. She appraised me quietly. Calmly. Intently. I fought the urge to squirm, as if I was anticipating a scolding like I was an errant schoolchild.

She sat forward slightly. I could see the intensity in her eyes as thoughts roiled about within her. "Is that so?", she finally asked.

"Yes."

She shook her head. "You're being a fool, that's what you are."

I laughed harshly. "I can't dispute that. I've been a fool for quite a long while, Mistress Weatherwax."

"Maybe so, but that's no excuse to stop thinkin'!", she retorted.

I blinked.

"Yes, you went wrong, sir," she continued. "You started cacklin'. I knows what that's like. I knows those thoughts well, sir, because I fights 'em all the time. But I haven't stopped bein' me over it." She crossed her arms. "And I ain't ever thought of givin' up my name over it."

"I beg your pardon, what...."

"I ain't finished," Granny Weatherwax snapped. "You are what you are now, sir. Whatever you were before, this is what you've become, and taking that name is why! You know Names have power. They defines things, they defines us. And fool that you were, you took that Name! You let it into you and you made it your own without thinkin' about what that meant!"

Her voice was more excited this time. She wasn't shouting, really, but she was speaking with power and energy that belied her venerable figure.

Granny Weatherwax continued. "Without thinkin' of what that would lead to. Because Names like that, you don't just throws 'em out because you're 'fraid of 'em. You can't! They sinks into you, become a part of you, becomes what you are. You might as well try to cut pieces of yourself off to throw away, it's about the same."

I remained silent. I knew better than to interrupt.

Granny Weatherwax wet her throat with the tea before setting it back down. "You took the Name, sir, and made it yours," she said, her voice slightly lowered again. At least, until the next sentence. "And the Name took you and made you its."

The cottage went silent. I stared, barely daring to think, not daring to move. I let the words sink into my mind and felt the raw truth within them.

I had been someone else once. Even before I forgot entirely who that was, I had taken the Name of the Doctor, first as a melodramatic boast and then as a pledge to live up to that standard. I had used it everywhere. I had let it become a part of me until I knew nothing else. And, indeed, until I had nothing else. And I had never thought of taking another name, of becoming anything else but the Doctor.

It hurt to look back to those painful times. To losing Katherine, to giving into my darkest impulses when I punished her killers, to my long labors and inevitably failure to restore her, and to the fateful day when I snapped and decided I would be the arbiter of every timeline, that I would "fix" everything. I had walked away from that believing the Name of the Doctor had driven me too far. That the power of thinking I was the Doctor had corrupted me.

But that wasn't true either. It wasn't the name I'd chosen that drove me to those extremes. It was my own decisions. It was my hubris and my rage and my grief. If I hadn't taken the Name of the Doctor, if I'd come up with something else, what would have changed?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I still would have fallen. I still would have become the Time Lord Triumphant.

I felt tears in my eyes at the thought.

"I understand," I finally said. "But..." I swallowed and shook my head. "What if I don't want to be that anymore? What if I want an identity of my own? Not something I copied from another being?"

Granny Weatherwax finished sipping at her tea. "That is your choice," she said. "You can try. That's part of life. Makin' changes to yourself if you must. But you ain't goin' to work it out if you're not honest with yourself." She looked from me to Korra and back to me. "That's what you've both got to work out for yourselves. Decide what you are. Decide if you're the Avatar and the Doctor or if you wants to be somethin' else. You're the only ones who can make the choice."

I looked to Korra. She looked back at me. Neither of us had anything to say.

"Now, I has to be goin' down to the village to check on Widow Miller's leg," Granny Weatherwax declared, rising to her feet. "I've given you all the time I can."

"I understand," I said. I bowed my head with the utmost respect. "Thank you, Mistress Weatherwax."

"Thank you," Korra said as well, giving the formal palm-to-fist gesture and head bow of respect from her world. "It was great meeting you."

She received a nod in reply. And we were ushered out of the cottage. I made sure to find some bandage cloths and fruits from our pantry to hand over to Granny Weatherwax, who accepted them at the TARDIS door. I nodded to her and received a nod in return.

I then closed the door and went up to the controls. I looked to Korra. "Are you alright?"

"I've got a lot to think about," she said.

"Yes," I agreed. "We both do."

Nothing more needed to be said. I shifted us out.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-16 04:25am

Episode 24 - Choices

There was a change in the TARDIS after our meeting with Granny Weatherwax. The great witch of the Discworld had given myself and Korra words to think on. Words to lead us to the choices we had been putting off.

Before either of us could make a decision, however, there was one last adventure awaiting us.

I was sitting alone in the control chamber tinkering with the sonic screwdriver. Nothing groundbreaking, just a little tinkering. More like playing with it, to be honest. A shadow loomed over me. "Hello, Asami," I said.

I looked up and behind me. Asami was looking at me curiously. "How could you tell it was me? The shadow isn't very detailed."

"You're taller," I answered. "Changes the shadow's size compared to Korra's. And your footsteps sound a little different on the walkway from the different mass. I can tell."

"Oh. Of course." Asami sat down next to me. "It seems that since you and Korra talked to that old lady, you're both being really quiet."

I smiled thinly and nodded. "Yes. Quite a lot to think about it."

"So you really don't want to be the Doctor anymore?", Asami asked me.

I didn't answer at first. I pressed the sonic screwdriver's test function a few times to see it light up with purple. My favorite color. "I don't know," I finally admitted. "I feel like it was a role that I was pushed into. I mean, the TARDIS, the sonic screwdriver being given a color I liked. All of those suits that the original Doctor wore being in my wardrobe."

"Really?"

"They're long gone." I smirked. "Mouse took care of them. Made quite a mess in the process." I held the sonic level with my hands, resting my elbows on my legs just above the knee. "Granted, I can't say I was entirely forced into the name. I took it almost from the beginning as bravado. I changed my TARDIS' chameleon circuit to resemble the Doctor's TARDIS. But I don't know if this is something I want to keep being. How much did taking that name accelerate my loss of identity? Could I get it back by trying to take another?" At this point I was just thinking out loud. "Or I'd just get yet another new identity and start going mad. Well, more mad than usual." I looked over to her. "How about you? Anything on your mind?"

"I'm just worried about Korra. I thought it would cheer her up to hear me say we needed the Avatar, but it doesn't seem to be working."

I nodded. "Tricky bit with her is.... where does the Avatar end and Korra begin? I mean, is she just a container for a greater spirit or is she her own being as well? After a lifetime of having her status as Avatar drilled into her as a great and important thing, maybe she needs to be reminded that Korra is important too."

"She is," Asami insisted.

I looked at her. The fervent declaration had emotion to it. More than I'd expected. "Yes," I said. "Give her time, Asami." I put a hand on her shoulder.

We remained silent for a minute or so. I heard footsteps behind me. "So, where are we?" Korra's voice prompted us to turn our heads.

"We're parked off a temporally-charged wormhole," I answered. "The TARDIS needed a little tipping off of the tank."

"Where are we going next?", Korra asked.

"Oh, plenty of possible places to visit," I replied. "It depends on what you want to see." I stood up and went to standing by the controls, near where Korra was looking at them. "What are you in the mood for?"

Korra seemed to be in thought for a moment. She looked to Asami and lowered her eyes. "I think.... I don't know. We've been just about everywhere."

"Well, lots of places, certainly." I scratched at my chin. "Could always see if Emperor Vir is throwing another party. He's good with those."

"I don't think I'm in the partying mood," Korra answered.

I nodded. "Okay. A quiet valley? Maybe a little visit to the History Monks' monastery? It's nice and contemplative there, and the Monks owe me a favor or two over the millennia."

Korra shook her head. "I don't think I want to be around monks either."

"Ah. Ah, I see." I put my hands together in contemplation. "You're not so much interested in going somewhere as you are in just going, eh?"

"Yeah, maybe."

"Well. Hrm." I snapped my fingers. "Let's try something." I started twisting knobs on the TARDIS without looking. "Safeties on... I'm going to pick a random spot. No idea where we'll wind up, when we'll end up, all that. But we'll be somewhere, eh?" I reached for the lever and pulled.

As the TARDIS engine finished its VWORPing, a sudden shudder rumbled through her. It got my immediate attention. "Well now, what was that?", I asked rhetorically. I checked the readings. Most factors appeared normal, but there were some indications of something... off.

Asami opened the TARDIS door. The outside was dark. "It's a small city," she said. "But it's all dark."

I walked to the exit and agreed. It was a North American city. Older downtown area I would think. Not a single light was on, however. "Widescale power outage of some sort," I pondered aloud. I took a step out.

And I knew it was more than that.

My Time Lord senses could feel it. There was something wrong. Something... twisted. An oily feeling in the energy of the air. I had felt like this only a few times before; in the presence of Walpurgisnacht and later Homura's witch labyrinth. But it wasn't quite the same, so I knew it couldn't be that. Just the same precept of something distorting the fabric of space-time in some unknown way.

I held up the sonic and turned it on, using it for a light. The streets were quiet for the moment. People had presumably rushed indoors or to find shelter. Clouds overhead showed that a shower had been raining down, driving people indoors on the cool night. The road was slick.

And at the extent of my hearing, I heard a cry for help.

"This way," I said, and they followed me toward the source.

A large SUV had slammed into a car nearby, pinning it against a wall. It had partly crushed the driver's side in. I could see a limp head against the side of the crushed window. A second body, caked in blood, was halfway out of the shattered windshield. The SUV's driver had been careless and wasn't wearing a seatbelt when they impacted. A fatal mistake. Humans can be silly creatures. "Should I make us a light?", Korra asked.

"No, no fire, there might be petrol leaks or the like," I warned. "Asami?"

Asami pulled out her electric torch - or flashlight if you prefer. I heard it click.

But no light appeared.

I looked back to her in the gloom. I held up the sonic screwdriver and scanned. "Your batteries have no power in them," I said.

"That's not possible, I recharged them this morning," she insisted.

My brow furrowed as I looked back out at the dark city around us. I wondered....

"Please help," a weak voice croaked inside of the car.

Right. First things first. I looked to the pinned car. its engine was intact. "Can you turn the car on?", I asked the occupant. "The engine will work, if the engine's on the car can slide out!"

One of the forms inside shifted. "It's not turning on," the person said, the voice clearly feminine. "I tried."

"Try again, it should work."

I watched the shadow move over. After several seconds I could... well, nothing. I looked at my sonic's scan results. No electricity was reaching the starter. Even though I saw no signs of damage.

Puzzling.

"I've got this," Korra said. She assumed an Earthbending stance and pulled at the SUV. I saw strain in her face as she did so; the plastics in the vehicle meant it wasn't entirely metal and that the weight of the plastic was essentially dead weight to pull. But within seconds she had pulled the vehicle back enough to expose the driver's side doors. Asami and I opened them.

Inside were a pair of teenagers, one looking almost college age and the other maybe sixteen or seventeen. The driver was in his late thirties or early forties. All three had African complexions and appearance. "He's dead," I murmured at a single scan. "Brain injury. Come on..."

I brought the dead man out quietly and reached in again for the young woman beside him. The impact had jostled her badly but I didn't see wounds as severe. She used what strength she had to pull herself out. In the back seat Asami was getting a young lady with a broken arm out she had been on the driver's side and was directly injured by the impact.

As soon as we had both out Korra had water ready for their worst injuries. I knelt beside them. "Can you say what happened?"

The younger girl rubbed at her head. "We were just coming home from dinner," she said weakly. "And then... I mean, it was like nothing but pain for a second. And then the car lights died and the engine cut out and that car slammed into us."

"How long ago?", I asked.

"A few minutes, I think." She blinked. "I can't remember."

"And nobody helped you?", I continued.

"Everyone is inside. Probably watching the news. Something weird was going on up north."

"Oh?", I asked.

"Yeah," she continued. "There was some kind of storm up in Massachusetts. One of those islands had some weird bunch of lights over it or something."

I paused. Something tickled my memory. "Really? Which island?"

"I don't remember..."

The other girl stirred as Korra treated her injured head. "I.... I think it was... it was 'tucket' something."

I felt my expression tense as facts fell into place. I leaned over her. "Was it Nantucket?"

"Yeah," the young woman said weakly. "It was that one. Nantucket."

I swallowed and reached for the TARDIS control. "Well, that explains things," I sighed.

"How does that have anything to do with the entire city losing power?", Asami asked.

"It's not just the city," I answered, unable to keep my voice from showing my growing horror. "It's the entire world." Now I knew why the energy of this place felt wrong, why it felt so oily. "Something has literally altered several physical laws on this world to make technology stop working."

"Wow, that's... that's incredible," Korra said with genuine amazement. "That's really powerful. How could something do that?"

"I don't know. But we have to stop it." I was almost half afraid of my control's functionality until I heard the TARDIS start VWORPing into place beside us. "Otherwise, billions of people across this planet are going to die."





As we loaded the injured young ladies into the TARDIS, Korra finally took the time to ask me about my statement. "What do you mean by billions of people dying without technology?"

"Well, Korra," I began, "you've seen other Earths like this, yes? And you've seen how many cities they have that are the size of Republic City, or even larger?"

"Well... yeah," she said.

"Now consider. How can that many people live so closely and so tightly without creating a sanitation nightmare? Without running out of food and drinkable water? What makes Republic City work?"

"Infrastructure," Asami answered, looking up from where she was settling one of the survivors down with a mild painkiller. Both girls, with the medication in their bodies, were starting to nod off. "We have railroads and roads to bring in food and raw materials to keep everyone fed. We have water reservoirs and pipelines to move water into republic City. And we have electricity to maintain water pressure with pumping systems, and to refrigerate food. Without electricity or the ability to power cars or trains..." Her face was paling as she considered the full effect of what I was saying.

"But Ba Sing Se has a lot of people too, and has had that many for centuries," Korra pointed out.

"They had infrastructure using Earthbender powered rail cars," I reminded her. "This world doesn't have Earthbenders."

"If you did something like this to Republic City, even with Earthbenders it would cause a lot of suffering," Asami added. "Here...."

"Exactly why we must act," I said. I went to the TARDIS controls. "Our next stop is Nantucket Island."




For those unfamiliar with it, Nantucket is off the southern coast of Massachusetts, southeast of Martha's Vineyard. It spent much of the 19th Century as a center for American whaling fleets, which in conjunction of others of that kind helped to drive several of those gentle species into near-extinction.

Fitting that it would be the focal point for an event that would drive Humanity in the same direction.

Hrm, pondering such things.... I think having a run-in with the like of the Planeteers left a mark. How intriguing.

But that island was not this one. This one was thick with trees. It was a primordial land, the night sky and its stars blacked out at parts from the trees. In the distance I could see a fire. Natives, the distant ancestors of those poor souls who in this world had died from the shot and pestilence of Europe.

And as I stepped out, I could feel what the TARDIS confirmed. It wasn't just the oily wrongness of the perverted space-time of the rest of the Earth. It was like being around a live wire. The air brimmed with energy. Temporal energy, psychokinetic, spiritual, the Force... name the energy and it would fit.

I turned. Korra had a flame crackling in her palm. Her blue eyes were wide with wonder and surprise. "I can't believe it. It's almost like being in the Spirit World here. I feel so much in the air."

"This is Ground Zero for a major temporal shift," I said. "This is not some uncontrolled natural occurrence. Not in origin. This is artifice."

Indeed.

The voice came to my mind, soft and gentle, that of a woman. I blinked at it and frowned. "Did you hear that?"

"I didn't hear anything," Asami said.

"I did." Korra looked in one direction. "This way."

With the TARDIS locked and secured we entered the forest, moving a ways until we found another clearing near the water. A campfire seemed to be burning and three figures sat around it. I heard Korra gasp as she stepped close enough to make out figures. I looked past her to them and realized why.

In the middle I recognized Senna. To Senna's right was Jinora, to her left was Katara. I blinked.

"That's not possible," I heard Korra say. "You're spirits using their faces to get into my head."

"We thought to assume forms you would be familiar with," the Senna figure said.

"Why?", Korra asked, a little heat in her voice.

I smirked. "Pagan, or rather neopagan symbolism. The Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone or Wise Woman," I said, since thinking of Katara as a "crone" seemed insulting. "The Triple Goddess. Is that what you see yourself as?"

"It would not be inaccurate," the fake Katara said. "And what are you?"

"Time Lord," I answered.

"Yes, but you are not her." They all looked to Korra. "You are something more. Something we had never imagined possible."

"I'm the Avatar," Korra answered quietly. With none of the exuberance to which she used to ascribe her title.

"From other Wheels," "Jinora" said, smiling. "We have felt such as possible. But not like you."

"Are you doing this?", Korra asked. "Are you the ones trying to destroy this world?"

"Destroy? No." The three figures looked at each other. "We understand what it is you speak of. The Change we have caused."

"It is s terrible thing," the Jinora lamented. "But not the most terrible."

I raised my eyebrows. "You are about to cause untold suffering upon millions of people. You are laying waste to an entire civilization. And you say there is something worse?"

"It saddens us," the Katara said. "But it gains time to make things right."

But you’re talking about millions of deaths!”, Asami protested. “Can’t you find another way?”

“We have tried.”

“Not bloody hard enough,” I snarled. “No. There has to be a better way.”

“You do not understand,” Senna sighed. She looked at Korra. “Do you? We appeared to you as this because you are the one with the spirit to understand what is going on?”

“It’s wrong to kill that many people,” Korra insisted. “We have to find another way!”

The three looked at each other yet again. “If we do not act, the Others will. They will bring entropy. They will destroy the world entirely. Life would die out. The sufferings they would cause would be legion and far greater in scope to the sad necessity before us.”

“Then tell us what to do to stop these others,” I said. “I am a Time Lord and she is the Avatar. Between my technology and her power we could end this threat.”

“But are you capable? You question your places. Weakness will be seized by the Others.” The Mother Senna looked at Korra. “Child, do not interfere with this.”

“Could you stop us?”, Asami challenged.

That was when pain struck, fierce and terrible. Asami cried out and collapsed. I groaned and began to fall over to my knees. I reached for my sonics. Or rather I tried. But my arms would not answer my commands. “Unnnrg....” I couldn’t speak to Korra, as I saw her struggle against... whatever it was they were doing.

Korra was ready to collapse as well. But I saw her eyes start to flash. The wind picked up. Fire came to life around her. She was entering the Avatar State.

The three beings - or one being acting in three parts, possibly - looked at this with consternation. The looks of effort on their faces intensified.

“Kor...nnggh...” My attempt to speak again failed. Pain began to overwhelm every sense as my eyes stopped seeing.

And everything began to grow dark.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-17 02:36pm

Whatever the entities in question were doing, it had smashed through my mental defenses and left me helpless. I couldn’t see if Asami was conscious. I couldn’t see anything. All I knew was Korra was still up.

And then the pain lifted. Like it had never been there. The pain still throbbed for a minute but couldn’t keep me from lifting my head. Asami groaned and began to stir.

I looked at the others. Korra was in the full Avatar State. The three figures were locked in place, looking at her with surprise and... was that a hint of pleasure? I wasn’t sure. “Go....” I heard Korra rasp. “I... can keep you... free... stop them.”

“Right. Come along, Asami.” I got to my feet and took Asami by the hand. “We’ve got work to do.”

“But Korra...!”

“She’ll be fine,” I insisted as we ran from the camp and back into the wood. Well, okay, I couldn’t be entirely sure she would be, but there wasn’t anything we could do there. From the TARDIS, on the other hand?

I knew precisely what to do.

We picked up speed going through the underbrush and put speed over caution.

And as a result, I almost took an arrow in the head.

It whistled by me and smacked into a tree nearby. I heard the light sound of another bow firing and pulled Asami low. Another arrow went right where her heart had been. “What’s going on?”, she asked.

“The natives of the island. Poor men are terrified by what’s happened and are trying to protect their homes. Come on!” I scrambled back to my feet and pulled out the sonic disruptor. The next arrow struck its defensive shield. There were hushed sounds of fear from nearby growth. “That will scare them for a while. Let’s keep going!”

We continued on our way and got back to the TARDIS. As we got to the door I heard a twig snap and whirled about. My sonic disruptor knocked the bone dart out of the air at the last minute. “Brave of them” I muttered, wishing the opposite. I couldn’t blame them for their reaction, I was just too busy to be nice about it. I fired a long-distance kinetic blast from the disruptor and heard a distant cry of surprise and a thump. “For your own good, stay away!”, I shouted before opening the TARDIS door.

When we entered, Asami got out of my way and let me get to the controls. “So how are we going to help Korra?”

“By distracting them,” I answered. “And hopefully by fixing this mess.”

“You mean by finding a way to restore the proper rules of physics?”

“Exactly!” I snapped my fingers for effect. “The TARDIS pocket dimension has a non-warped real space-time environment. The proper laws of physics still exist in here. Mostly,” I hastily corrected. “But the important part is that they exist in here. And I can use that as a template. I can re-impose the proper rules of physics over the new state this being formed.”

“But what’s to stop it from just doing it again?”, Asami asked.

I stopped for a moment and sighed. “Good question. But we’ll deal with that when we can. Every minute we delay, people will die.” I pointed to the controls. “Please get on those controls. Upper right switches. Make sure the status light remains blue.”

“Right.” Asami nodded firmly and did as I asked.

I returned to work myself, preparing the TARDIS for what would be a massive outlay of power. I felt my hearts pick up in pace as the calculations ran through my mind. I had never done something like this before. Not of this scale. This wasn’t sealing a Crack. This was effectively rewriting the underpinnings of creation on a planetary scale. If I was off by just a bit... I could destroy the TARDIS. Or worse.

A very quiet part of my mind pointed out the risks may be far more than one world. That I was risking quadrillions to save billions. The math of that was all wrong.

But... I couldn’t stand by and do nothing. This was wrong. It had to be stopped.

As I was about to throw the switch on the TARDIS I felt something shift in the internal energy field. It was faint and quiet. I turned toward the door. “Who are you?”

Again there were three figures. But now... now they were taking from my past. I swallowed at seeing them effect the appearance of Katherine, Charity Carpenter, and... yes, Granny Weatherwax. “Do you intend to undo the Change?”, the Katherine asked.

I didn’t answer. I turned my head away. “I don’t appreciate people getting into my head and plucking forth people from my past to use against me,” I growled. I couldn’t let them distract me. I had to keep my eye on the calculations.

“There is no other way,” the Charity figure said. “The dissonance must be settled. Time is needed. This will give time for a solution.”

“Ain’t a happy thing, but it’s what must be done.” The Crone appearing as Granny Weatherwax even spoke with her usual inflection.

I gave them the benefit of a look in the eye. “Is it? Are you saying that it will be okay to kill billions rather than find another solution? That the ends justify those means?’

Had they shown true reluctance, had they done even that, I might have relented. But there was none. “It must be done,” I was informed again.

I actually looked their way. “Must it? Hrm?” I shook my head. Hearing their words, thinking of the situation, it brought things back. It made me remember things I’d rather not.

“You still don’t understand.”

“Oh, but that’s where you’re wrong,” I countered. “Because I do understand. I understand perfectly! I’ve been there before,” I said, my voice getting louder with frustration and pain. “I was ready to make this same decision! To say that killing billions to save trillions was acceptable, that it was necessary. And I am eternally thankful that I had a friend that was willing to stop me.”

“There is too much at stake.”

With that the three beings held up their hands. I groaned as pain slammed into my senses again. I could hear the moan from Asami, who slumped against the controls. It wasn’t as bad this time, though. Whether it was the effort of projecting themselves or itself into the TARDIS or because it was being stalemated by Korra, they couldn’t hit us like before.

I pushed the pain from my thoughts, got to the TARDIS controls, and hit the final lever.

The VWORP began, picking up speed as the TARDIS went to its limits. The door opened and I could sense the energy coming out, the TARDIS’ power forcing itself into the world around it, trying to overwhelm the local space-time.

The beings in question slackened their attack. The TARDIS’ field was weakening them as well. “Why are you fightin’ us, fool?”, the fake Granny Weatherwax demanded. “You know sometimes this is the only way.”

“Because....” I swallowed. “Because that is what I do. I defend life.”

“You say that, but we see within you,” fake Charity said. “You don’t know who you are or who you want to be. You have thrown away the identity you took and grasp about to replace it.”

“Maybe so. Yes, maybe so. But that doesn’t change what I believe. I believe you are wrong, and I will fight to stop you,” I rasped through the pain. I returned my attention to the TARDIS controls.

The beings in question focused a little. The pain increased on me. More than that, as my vision blurred and blood trickled from my nose, I could see the readings from the TARDIS. They were resisting it. They were trying to collapse its expanding dimensional field to prevent it from reimposing physics on the world. “You are powerful and clever,” fake Katherine said. “But you cannot defeat us. We are the All of Mankind, of all life. And we have seen this is necessary.”

“No... it... isn’t....”

There was a warning buzz from the controls. The field had to be adjusted to deal with the resistance. But they were focusing on me and I was finding myself unable to move. I growled and tried to focus on the controls. But my hand would not move.

“Sleep,” one of the three - I couldn’t make them out - ordered me.

I slumped over and hit the floor. It was taking everything I had to stay conscious. Deep in my mind I calculated what was going wrong; if the field wasn’t adjusted, feedback would, well, not destroy the TARDIS, but severely damage it. It might even reverse what I planned; instead of the TARDIS reinforcing normal physical laws, the altered ones would be forced into the TARDIS, rendering its technology inoperable.

I couldn’t let that happen.

But I couldn’t move.

I strained with my eyes and heard a gasp of effort. Asami rose from the other side of the controls. Blood seeped from her nostrils and lip. Tears of pain flowed down her cheeks. But her face showed raw effort and will. She held herself up against the controls and reached over, taking the field control and turning it as I would have. The lights went to their proper color. She cried out a moment later as the attention was focused on her. The attack on me slackened.

And then it relented. The three entities began to fade, unable to keep their presence with the TARDIS field adjusting to us. I tried to get up as quickly as I could and looked over to Asami, who lay still. Disturbingly so. I went over and checked her. Her face was pale and she didn’t move, didn’t twitch.

Fear gripped me. I cold barely put my hand to her wrist to check for a pulse that looked like it might not be there.

I was answered by the gentle thrum of a functioning pulse under my thumb. That prompted a sigh of relief, I admit.

I went to the controls next. The TARDIS was again starting to overwrite what this unknown Mind Entity or Entities had one to the world. I looked over the numbers, I made the calculations.

I cursed. There wasn’t enough power. This thing was too strong.

The TARDIS door opened. Korra stumbled in, looking fatigued as I did. Dried blood was crusted to her nostrils. She righted herself until she saw Asami and how she was laid out. “Asami..!” She stumbled over to her and looked up at me. “What happened?!”

“They tried to attack the TARDIS,” I said weakly, rubbing at the blood on my own face. “Asami managed to do the field alteration we needed to avoid catastrophe. They didn’t like that. Don’t worry, she’s...”

“...alive.” The relief was palpable in her voice. “I wish I’d been strong enough to come back and protect you,” Korra said “I’ve never seen a spirit that powerful. Not even Vaatu.”

“I don’t think it’s one,” I answered. “Their power signatures have unique elements in each. I think it’s some sort of hive mind gestault.... ah ha!” I snapped my fingers. My brain was lurching back to full speed. “Quantum information preservation. That’s what this is. Something about this world, it... it preserves the basic information of every being, they sort of merge together in some odd way, and over time their numbers have grown with the larger population on Earth.” I rubbed at my head. “And with this past century being especially bad... I wonder if that’s what they meant by Others.”

“I felt a lot of tension when I was locked with them,” Korra said.

“And a lot of energy too, all from the shifting of the island with its counterpart in another fifth dimensional space time coordinate.” I scratched at my chin. “I wonder if I could disrupt that link. If the feedback might force this thing to stop. Maybe even shock it enough to not have it try again.”

“Do what you have to,” Korra said. “I’ll help in any way I can.”

“There’s some medigel in the lower compartment and a bottle of fresh spring water for you,” I said.

And so we went to work.




I was about ready to act when there was a knock on the door of the TARDIS.

Korra had gotten Asami up by that point and they were providing help as I went through the calculations and the work of readying the TARDIS to change tactics. The knock interrupted my thoughts and made me turn. I eyed them and we all crept toward the door.

We want to speak. A truce.

I narrowed my eyes. “If they act, Korra...”

“I’ll get them,” she answered.

I opened the door of the TARDIS. They had dropped the neopagan symbolism now. There was just the faux Katara. And another figure, one I had to take a moment to recognize. I hid my surprise at seeing my own self image portrayed. I appraised them both intentionally and said, “State your purpose.”

“I am here to support you,” the fake me said. “We are against this meaningless endeavor.”

“And I am here to plead with you,” the other said in Katara’s gentle voice. “He represents the Others. He, they, wish this world for themselves.”

“I wish this world to be unfettered,” the Other me said. He walked up to meet me eye to eye. “To let it flourish.”

“To bring about entropy, to control with chaos and make light of lives.”

Fake Me barely seemed to notice fake Katara. “You of all people should understand me. You should recognize what I want and why it is better.”

“That remains to be seen,” I replied. “I’m all for freedom of intelligent beings, but there’s a difference between freedom and bloody mayhem.”

“Are you listening to them? The voices that are responsible for the thing you seek to reverse?”

“I happen to see they’re very frightened, and may be for good reason.” I looked from one to the other. “I believe I understand what’s going on. You represent the... Mind, if you will, of all beings who have lived on this world before. But your numbers have grown beyond your ability to remain stable. You’re experiencing some sort of... of split personality, each cut wanting different things, and what’s left of the stable center of your mind trying to keep the peace and hoping that this... this technology destruction will alter Human society such that it will provide more stabilizing influences as its numbers pass into yours.”

“That is their plot, yes.”

“So if you are the middle, and you are for a world with no restrictions, where is the Order one, eh?”

“I speak for that part of the mind,” fake Katara answered. “They recognize that our state must be calmed and that this plan is the best method.”

“That is because they wish life regimented. Ordered. Sterile,” fake Me countered.

“I’m getting rather tired of the constant attacks,” I retorted. I crossed my arms. “I’ll do you one better. A compromise that will help you with this squabble.”

‘Yes?”

“Leave Earth alone,” I said succinctly. “Stop meddling with it. Let Humanity find its own way. They can do that, short-sighted as they are.”

“That is not possible,” fake Katara said. “We are a part of the Earth. Its fate is ours. If the wrong outcome occurs, we are lost too.”

“This conversation is going nowhere,” fake Me said, yawning for effect. “What will it be, friend? Help them ruin this world as it is? Or stop them and let us take a turn?”

I narrowed my eyes, making calculations. I had some thoughts on how to handle this. One thing that might work.

One horrible, terrifying thing.

“I’ll be right back,” I said, turning back into the TARDIS with the girls following me. I went to the controls and activated a stealth field to keep the visiting entities out.

“How can we handle this?”, Korra asked. “Whatever choice we make, there will be a fight.”

“Likely,” I said. “That’s why I have a plan.” I reached for the TARDIS controls. “I’m going to hook the TARDIS into the distortion that swapped the islands through space-time and destabilize it. They’re connected to it. Even the side opposed to the solution. With enough energy, violently delivered...” I clicked a switch. “...well, the feedback will be nasty. I may end up lobotomizing the thing.”

“Are you... sure?”< Korra asked me cautiously. I could see the worry on her face. “That doesn’t sound right.”

“No, it’s not a good thing, but right now it’s the only hope for this world.” I pulled back another lever and the TARDIS powered up.

The door didn’t open. But the two figures appeared inside anyway. “What are you doing?”, the fake me asked.

“Stopping you two from playing games with the fate of this world,” I stated. “I’m giving these people their world back.”

The Other laughed. “Oh, quite clever. You’re going to turn their precious Change against them. You will use the same energy they use to keep the islands shifted into opposite worlds in order to destroy our Mind.” The being let out a truly satanic-sounding laugh. But do you recognize what will be done?”

“Whatever do you mean?”

Fake Katara’s eyes lowered. “We would fight back. All of us, as a unified mind. We may yet fail, but the energy from that combat would destroy this island. On both sides of the transference.”

I stopped and eyed them. No. It was a bluff. I’d calculated for that...

I ran the calculations again. The link would work both ways. Energy would pour into the other world as well. Energy coming out right at Nantucket. The people of that island would find their future far shorter than either would later manage.

I swallowed. In order to save this world, to save billions here, I had to kill the thousands of people from Nantucket who now lived on the other side of the rift.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-18 10:51am

As my thoughts circulated I found myself wandering over to the controls. Everything was about ready. A few button presses and I would begin destabilizing the dimensional link connecting this Nantucket to the other and causing both to be maintained in other times and spaces. The common Mind entity who’s split personalities argued before me would be overwhelmed by the power.

And in the process, every living thing on either version of Nantucket would die in a blaze of energy.

Thousands of innocent people, altogether.

“Are they... telling the truth, Doc?”, Korra asked.

I looked up from the controls. “Yes,” I croaked. “They are.”

“So, if you do this...”

I cut Asami off. “I’ll be personally killing thousands of innocent people.” I swallowed. “And if I don’t, billions will die here on this world.”

“Help me overthrow them,” the phantom Me originated by the pro-Entropy “Others” insisted. “Then you will have your victory.”

“And you will ruin the world in your own way,” I countered. I looked at them. “Can’t you reconcile? Find another way!”

“We cannot,” the fake Katara said.

I balled my hands into fists and looked away. My hearts swelled with pain. Why? Why did it have to be this way?

“Please, isn’t there another way?”, Korra asked me.

I shook my head. “No. No, we don’t have the power to undo the Change, we would need part of the Mind’s help at least.” I glared at my doppelganger. “And they would just do as they pleased afterward.”

Perhaps I was being unfairly mistrustful. Some chaos, some flexibility in things, is always necessary to keep things from becoming sterile. But this... this thing... I could see the malevolence, I was certain of it. It cared even less for the human lives than the other ones did. They were firm to their course, unyielding, but at least they thought it was better for Humanity. He made no such pretenses. This was for the benefit of his part of the Mind. That was all.

My hand twisted a couple of dials, readying the TARDIS engines for the link. They were shaking as the final adjustments were made. All I had to do was pull one lever to begin the process.

One lever to save billions.

One lever to condemn thousands.

The arithmetic was clear. The Vulcans would say the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few. Others might point out that the people on Nantucket would have a quick, clean death, wiped off the face of that other world in a blast of energy, while on this world the dead in the coming years would suffer gruesomely in their demises.

I couldn’t stand by and allow those billions to suffer and die like that.

Just one pull. It would be quick. Like, say, ripping off a bandage. And then it would be over.

And there was nothing the Mind could do to stop me, not with our field reinforced. All they could do was project themselves in here.

Just one pull.

Just one. To save billions. It had to be done.

It had to.

I let out a pained breath and set my hand on the lever. I had to do it.

I.... I had to... I...

I....

Tears obscured my vision. I found myself sobbing uncontrollably.

Because... I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t make this choice. I couldn’t intentionally kill thousands of people like that. Not like he would.

Not like Triumphant would have.

Because I wasn’t him. I had turned my back on him.

“I can’t do this,” I wept. “I can’t.”

My rational voice raged at my indecision. You have to! You don’t have a choice! Billions will die if you don’t!

“Why?”, I gasped between sobs. “Why can’t there be another way? Why can’t you... why can’t you listen to conscious?! Why does it have to be death!?” I was screaming as I looked at the two sections of the Mind.

“That has been our agony since the decision was made,” the fake Katara said quietly.

I slumped against the controls until I was sitting on the floor. I was being a coward and I knew it. And no matter how I walked out of this day, no matter what choice I made, that choice would cost me a part of my soul. Perhaps all of it.

Why? Why did it have to be me?!

Granny Weatherwax’s words played in my head again.

You took the name, sir, and made it yours! And the Name took you and made you its!

I cursed the younger me that had stood before Darth Malgus so long ago, boastfully replying to his “Who are you?” demand with “I’m the Doctor”. I cursed the younger me who had stood on Mogo and decided to keep using the name. I cursed my younger self on every time when I was told to take a different name and I refused.

Because... now this is what I was reduced to. I had no way out of this decision. Not without abandoning this world to its fate with the Change, and all of the suffering it would bring.

Kill thousands to save billions. Or refuse and leave those billions to suffer and die in the collapse of their civilization.

I would never, could never, forgive myself.

“Doctor?”

My eyes opened. Korra was looking at me. Her crystal blue eyes were shining with compassion. “Korra, I’m sorry,” I said to her. “I’m sorry I...”

“It’s okay.” Asami knelt down beside her and faced me as well, pretty green eyes and all. “You always find another way.”

“I’ve thought of everything,” I countered. “I don’t have the power to overturn the Change. I can’t convince the Mind to do it. If I access the raw power of the island’s transference with the TARDIS it will destabilize and destroy both islands. It’s the only way.”

“Maybe not,” Korra said. She looked at the two figures by the door. “I have a feeling.”

“What?”

“This being is a spirit, or something like it,” she said. “A composite spirit made up of a whole lot of spirits. So many it’s out of balance.”

I blinked away remnant tears. “That’s a good way of putting it, I suppose.”

“What if we could fix that?”, Korra asked. “I’m the Avatar. And I know the Spiritbending technique to restore an unbalanced spirit. If I used that on them, maybe it would fix the problem?”

I pursed my lips in calculation. “It would be difficult. All of those constituent aspects jostling around. You might get overwhelmed.”

“But I can try,” Korra said. “And if I can convince them to calm down, I can get them to undo the Change, right?”

“Never,” my doppelganger declared. “We will not be shackled!”

“It would heal us all,” the fake Katara pointed out. “The young woman’s proposal is wise.”

“No!,” he insisted, spittle forming on his lips. “No no no no! We will not be rejoined!” he looked to Korra and tried to lash out with his power. He looked more pained than Korra as a result of the exchange; inside the field he was too weak to wrestle with her spirit. “We will not allow this!”, he vowed before disappearing.

“What about you?”, Korra asked the remaining figure. “Would you let me try to rebalance you? And then you can undo the Change?”

“I... I believe we would welcome such. But it will not be easy. Our divisions are strong. And you may lack the power to do it.”

“I’ll try anyway,” Korra answered immediately.




Preparations were quick. We sat outside of the TARDIS to improve the connection to the Mind being. Korra sat before the representation that looked like Katara and assumed a meditative position. I sat beside her and extended my right hand to her face while my left held Asami’s. “I’m ready,” Asami assured us.

I nodded to Korra. She nodded back and placed her hands before her in a meditative posture. Her eyes closed and her breathing slowed. Through the telepathic connection I sensed the Avatar Spirit’s energies shift and flow as she quieted her mind for meditation to access the full range of her power.

She extended her hands suddenly and the representation of the Mind as Katara extended limbs ahead, taking Korra’s hands. A small, short grunt came from Korra, but she did not slacken.

We were a linked chain. The aspect connected Korra to the Mind. She connected me. And I connected Asami. We found ourselves in an open and dark field of some sort, surrounded by what looked like fireflies. But I knew they weren’t. “Individual mind-states,” I pondered as the flitted about us.

It was clear from the pattern that the grouping was not whole. They had splintered in several directions, showing the cause of the Mind’s decay and the rise of the factions using the Mind’s latent powers.

“So what do we do?”, Asami asked.

“We watch Korra while she focuses her power in here and tries to mend their shattered minds,” I answered. Even in spirit form like I was, I still made sure to carry the trusty sonic screwdriver and sonic disruptor. Asami had her glove as usual.

Korra was seating inside of this place, still meditating. The Avatar State’s glow shined in her eyes. With raised hands she created funnels of water that started enveloping some of the fireflies and shifting them together. “Unh,” Korra gasped. “They’re... fighting me.”

We got confirmation a moment later when a massive tusked monster, like an elephant out of the most oppressive fantasy regime you could imagine, stomped almost to where we were. I brought up the sonic and hit it with enough of a blast to stagger it. Asami jumped onto its stunned head and hit the false animal right between the eyes with a kick.

WE WILL NOT BE DENIED! WE WILL HAVE ENTROPY! More lights flared and rushed us. ALL WILL BE CHAOS!

More beasties came at us. Asami looked at the numbers of them while I made my disruptor act like it was far more violent than usually implemented. “How are you doing that?”, she asked.

“We’re not in the real world, Asami,” I reminded her. “The power of the mind is at work here. All of it is pure thought.”

Asami smiled and reached her arms out. I could see she was thinking of something. I heard some clanging as something metal landed in front of her. I had to turn away to push attackers away from Korra so I only heard clanging as she presumably finished what she was doing.

Bright silver bolts started smashing into the creatures and other figures of the resisting portions of the Mind. I turned and was most amused to see Asami in a power suit. Not just anyone - eliminate her clear visor that let her face be shown through it and the coloring, and it was essentially Tony Stark’s power armor.

Heh. First a Green Lantern, now she was Iron Asami. At least in the mind.

Korra’s hands raised and blue light started to emanate from them. The familiar pattern design of Raava formed over her torso as the blue light expanded. The rebuilding process was growing.

So was the resistance. I had to throw myself to the side as a massive form stomped, not bothering to give itself a shape beyond vague humanoid form and massive, meaty appendages that looked ready to pound Korra to paste. I threw a full blast at it with my mind. In this realm, the power of a Time Lord brain gave me some impressive advantages. Even if it looked like I was just using souped up versions of my sonic devices, that was my way of using my mind in familiar ways; my tools.

Asami took to the idea of flying power armor like a duck to water. She didn’t have a Time Lord brain or the power of a light spirit, but she did have her will and her intelligence. And a strong, strong drive to protect Korra.

And she needed it. I heard her cry out through the connection. “It’s fighting too hard,” she protested. “I’m losing my hold on it!”

I backed up toward her. Perhaps if I tried to use my Time Lord brain to support her power. I put a hand to her shoulder in the mindscape and tried to join the link.

It felt like I had slammed my head with a sledgehammer. I fell over in the mindscape and nearly so in the real world. For a brief moment I fell out of the trance state and nearly lost my hold on Korra that allowed Asami and I to participate. I had to concentrate to keep it in place and to delve back in.

Asami was fighting like she was possessed, throwing punches and blasts and everything to keep the approaching figures off of Korra. “How much longer?!”, she asked.

“I don’t know,” Korra answered. “It’s fighting me. I don’t know if I can keep enough strength to finish restoring the Mind’s balance.”

I frowned. To come this far and reach our limit with the task undone? That would again leave only the horrible as an alternative. And I couldn’t allow that.

No. No, it would not come to pass.

And then I realized what would do it. “Korra.” I got beside her. “Listen, you’re connected directly to this being. That means you’re connected to the dimensional transference rift that powers so much of what they’re doing. You can call upon that power yourself if you need to. Just be careful with it.”

“Right.” Korra’s mind-self took in a breath and started up again. Details of her form started to fade out; she looked like she was turning pure, bright blue. The innate energies of her spirit, in other words. All of which focused not in any particular direction as she reached for the connection to the Mind’s dimensional tear.



Suddenly the blue light expanded from her, golden light weaved within it. I felt my jaw open in astonishment. Korra had learned her lessons from Janias well; in this place, with her Avatar Spirit, she had connected to that same well of serene power to help stitch together the fragmented, chaotic mess of the Life Mind. The figures attacking us recoiled as if the energy burned them. But that’s not what it was doing. Instead it seemed to be doing the exact opposite. The power of Raava’s light and the Light Side of the Force merged and complemented each other, providing the gentle serenity of the latter with the inherent power of the first to calm them of their rancor, all of it powered further by the energy she was drawing from the dimensional rift that had swapped the two Nantucket islands.

I could feel it through the connection. Deep down, so many of those minds were those who were lost to the darkness of Humanity, who were oh so numerous in the 20th Century. They had been beings who had died in terror and pain and who had carried that with them into the gestault mind. Their helpless rage had fueled the disruption that had driven the world Mind mad and threatened to direct its power at the world itself, driving the sane part of the Mind to its desperate and horrifying plan to force the world into the Change. A short term loss since so many more would be lost in similar circumstances, but with the hope that the shock would drive Mankind to a more spiritual lifestyle that would lessen the shock of death and the disruption upon the mind becoming part of the whole.

It would not have worked, I think. Humans aren’t like that. But the Mind didn’t think like Humans.

But now Korra was soothing those restless minds. Indeed, her own terrible experiences, the things that nearly broke her, the suffering she had endured, was a common link that made them even more accepting of her spirit’s guidance.

I also thought I felt something else through the connection. Korra, the Avatar of another world, now bonded with what passed for the personification of Life for this world. And maybe even the other, given the energy she was putting out and her link to the connection between worlds.

Everything turned blue and gold. The power was becoming too much. Like I was trying to hold a live wire. To protect myself and Asami I had to end the connection.




We were back on that Bronze Age Nantucket transplanted to 1998 A.D. The campfire crackled more lowly than before.

The false Katara was gone.

I felt bone weary and slumped over. The strain of connecting Asami and keeping the connection with Korra had gotten to me. Maybe some of that power she had taken in had hurt me as well.

“Korra?”

Asami was getting to her feet. I looked over to where Korra was sitting.

Well, not sitting anymore. She was sprawled out, as if she had fallen backward from her meditative position after trying to get up. Her face had lost its color and her lips looked a little blue.

My hearts skipped the beat. All of that power she had taken in and used. Had it... had it burnt out her body? The horrible thought nearly laid me low. Had we come so far just for our success here to have made us pay a terrible cost.

Korra!” Asami was at her side while I tried to sit up. She rested a hand on Korra’s face. Tears were already forming in her face as she clearly considered the worst.

I reached for her wrist. My fingers desperately searched for the distinct sensation of a pulse.

At first, I felt nothing.

Just as I was scrambling for my sonic, though, the weak telltale pressure pushed against the tip of my finger. “She’s alive,” I said while running the sonic over her. “She took in so much energy that she’s very weak right now. Let’s get her back into the TARDIS.”

I was ready to pick Korra up, but Asami beat me to it. Whether she was physically stronger than I usually expected or just consumed with such worry that she didn’t pay attention to her limits, Asami proved quite capable of carrying Korra bodily into the TARDIS and to my hammock. I provided a medication. Not medigel, since she might be too weak for it, but simply something to help her body recover from the taxing ordeal of channeling the energy she’d taken in.

I returned from the library with a seat for Asami. “Did it work?”, Asami asked. “Did we actually make this work?”

“We’re about to find out.” I held out a torch with a new set of batteries and stepped outside of the TARDIS. I took in a breath and flipped the switch.

A beam of light came from the end.

“We have restored that which was,” a voice said. A very familiar one.

I turned.

They had taken Korra’s form.

“Really?”, I asked.

The Mind’s visage as my friend smiled. “Your friend the Avatar has given us a blessing we never thought could occur. For the first time in a great while we are whole. And we have seen the futures that may come without the terror to distort our vision to further horrors.”

I nodded. “All of the worlds I showed her...”

“...and she has shown us now. All of the possibilities for our world. We embrace them. And we will do what we can to guide the people of this world to greatness.” The Mind’s visage of Korra bowed her head. “And we will remember what you did this night. We will remember that given the choice, the Doctor and the Avatar will always side with Life.”

“Thank you.” It was all I could say. But as I thought of it, a question came to me. “But what about the island? The Change was powered by the transference. Now that you have undone the Change...”

“The transference has been made permanent,” the Mind told me. “Korra drew upon the power of it to heal us. By doing so she has exhausted the rift and caused it to close. To re-open it would create the same dangers you considered to use against us.”

I nodded. “I see. So all of those people are trapped in the Bronze Age. And the people on this island....”

“....we will do what we can for them,” the Mind pledged. “We give you our promise. Go now, Doctor. Go and spread to other worlds the greatness you have given us.”

I... had no words to reply to that. There was nothing to say.

So I left.




I was so tired that I took a nap in the library, where the two young ladies we had rescued were still sleeping to recuperate. After a few hours I went out to check on my Companions. Asami had somehow fallen asleep in the chair. Exhaustion, clearly. She was laying forward in it and her head was settled beside Korra’s shoulder.

Their hands were still clasped.

There was something rather heartwarming about that. An affection between the two that was beyond mere friendship.

Indeed, they did seem rather closer these days than when I first met them. I’d observed that over our months together traveling. It was quite sweet.

I went to work fixing up a few bugs with the TARDIS. When I looked up the two young ladies we had rescued were stepping out of the door. “Where are we going to go?”, one asked.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Our dad’s dead,” the other, the older one, answered. I could hear both had a faint accent, the kind you get from African-Americans in the Southeast of the United States. “Grandpa too. We’ve got nobody left.”

“What about mom?”, the younger one asked.

“What about her?” The older girl made a face. “Like she’d care about us. She left us behind. Didn’t want us.”

“People used to say Dad made her. That he made her leave us. He would ruin her life.”

“Would either of you happen to know where your mother lives?”, I asked. “I can find her then.”

“Dunno.”

“She’d be on a ship or something.”

“A ship?”

“Yeah, she was in the military,” the older girl said.

“Navy then? That might be tricky to find, lots of Navy...”

“Naw, not Navy,” the girl said. “I know that. Mom was the other one.”

Something went click in my head. Like usual when circumstance or fate or whatever dropped a coincidence in my lap. “Your mother... was what, Coast Guard then?”

“Yeah.” The younger daughter frowned. “Dad said she loved it more than us.”

“Your father, rest his soul, had his reasons to be bitter, I imagine, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s right.” I clapped my hands together. “Alright young ladies, I tend to know when I’m walking into a colossal coincidence, or rather when my TARDIS has sent me into one. Do either of you remember your mother’s name? Would it happen to be ‘Marian’?”

“Yeah!”, the older girl said. “That was it!”

I chuckled. “Oh dear, how amusing.” I went to the TARDIS controls. “Alright girls, you have a choice. I drop you off back home and you try to make your way together in the world you know. Or you accept the loss of television and hip hop or what have you and go to live with your mother.”

“What you mean by that?”

“Your mother’s ship was at Nantucket, young ladies. She was trapped with the island, thrown across the oceans of eternity to another Earth three thousand years in the past,” I explained.

“How do you know this stuff?”

“I’m a Time Lord, trade secret. Now....” I put my lips over my mouth and then indicated my sleeping Companions. “Would you like to make your choice?”

The girls conversed. At length. I think curiosity and the daunting prospect of living alone in 1998 America as orphan teenagers, liable to be split up by the State foster system, overwhelmed trepidation about luxuries they would lose.

And so, after a stop by their home to pick up things, we were off.




In a world where Long Island was not an expanse of suburbs leading to upper class estates, farms dotted the island. And at one particular farm the TARDIS VWORPed into existence. A newly completed farmhouse. The air was warm with summer.

I had not taken the girls straight to Nantucket on the other side. Having them present might have changed too much in the life of a very important Nantucket leader. Instead I brought them to what would be called 12AE in this world. Twelve years had passed for them since “the Event”, the dimensional transference.

“Go on up,” I said to the girls, who nodded. I remained behind. I nearly left but... I thought better of it. I wanted to make sure this would go well.

The door was answered by a child. Then a woman with blonde hair came up. I suddenly realized the two young ladies didn’t know the exact reason their parents divorced and the terrible secret their father had wielded over their mother to secure her surrender to his demands in the separation. They would find out soon enough.

Unsurprisingly, a voice used to shouting commands across a sailing vessel at sea was great enough for me to hear the “JESUS, HOW?!” and the indications of distant exclaimations of joy.

The door opened again. The young ladies came out, leading their mother up to me. She was built wiry, muscled but not as thickly as Korra, with short-cut dark hair that might just be turning gray at the temples. She came up hand in-hand with the blonde woman, who looked to be at least fifteen years her younger. I could see behind them a pair of children, young girls barely ten years of age, playing on the porch. “Good morning, my ladies,” I said courteously. “Marian Alston-Kurlelo and Swindapa Alston-Kurlelo, I presume?”

“I’ve only got one question for you.” Marian’s voice, still showing the accent of the backwoods of South Carolina, sounded both fierce and utterly confused. “How? How did you bring my girls through? How did....”

“In short? I’m a Time Lord. I travel six dimensions of space-time in my TARDIS.” I knocked on the TARDIS door lightly. “And I was fortunate enough to save your daughters from the car crash that killed your unlamented late ex-husband John. And while that does sound fantastical, I would think living in the Bronze Age for a dozen years might broaden your mind’s horizons a bit on the infinite possibilities of Creation, my good Commodore.” I nodded my head at them. “Your daughters needed a home. I offered them a chance to see if you would have room for them.”

“Of course I have room for them,” Marian snapped. “But this is all so... it’s just so crazy!”

“That it is,” I agreed heartily. “Any more questions? I’m rather tired due to dealing with the entire crisis Nantucket’s dimensional transference caused, so I’m afraid my energy levels are a bit low for a prolonged interrogation.”

For a moment I thought she would ask if I knew what caused the Event. But she stopped and looked to Swindapa. The younger Fiernan woman - a native of what would later be called England after a couple of ethnic dislocations in the following millennia - smiled sweetly at me. “Thank you for bringing Marian’s daughters to her,” Swindapa said kindly. “But what is your name? They said they didn’t know.”

I sighed. And for a moment I considered my answer carefully. “My name. Well, that’s been something of an issue for me lately,” I admitted. “I suppose...” I sighed and smiled lightly. “...that it’s just fair to tell you this. That on many worlds and by many cultures, I am called the Doctor.” I nodded. “And if that is all?”

Had I stayed, there would have been more questions. But I stepped back into the TARDIS and the surreal nature of what had happened - and for Marian the joy of actually having the daughters she was forced to abandon returned to her - kept them from pressing further inquiries.

That was the end of the conversation. However, I did take note of something... peculiar. As I went to close the TARDIS door, I looked beyond the Alston-Kurlelos to their adopted daughters. The two young girls - one light-skinned and red-haired and the other with the brown complexion of a biracial child - were playing on the porch. Near them, severak sets of wind chimes were hanging from the porch sealing. There was almost no wind at the moment to move them.

And then, the second girl with the brown complexion - I couldn’t remember her name - pushed her hand out into the air. Like she was pushing the chimes in front of her if she had been near them. She wasn’t though. It looked like she was just making a hand motion while playing with her sister.

Those chimes moved as if a gust of wind had struck them. I could faintly hear their ringing from my place at the TARDIS door. A nearby set of chimes.... didn’t move at all.

I blinked. And I wondered if I was seeing things even as I closed the door. I was tired. I needed to rest.

Such an interesting sight...




It took a few days for Korra to recover her strength. Asami and I made sure she was comfortable. As the time went I could see the gears moving in her head, so to speak. Korra was in deep thought about something.

We hadn’t gone anywhere in particular when they approached me in the TARDIS control room. “So, feeling all refreshed now?”, I asked. “Naga could use some walksies, she’s moody when you’re not well and I’m the one giving them.”

Korra nodded, smiling thinly. “Actually... I can handle that. But there’s something else I want to talk about.”

“Oh?”, I asked. “Is everything alright?”

“Yes. It’s the best it’s been in a while,” Korra said. “Could that spirit go mad again?”

I scratched at my chin. “I’m not sure. Over time, maybe. Human population is increasing, more people dying, more raw information joining the whole. On the other hand, you did a great job repairing it, and it might have the power and knowledge to sustain its unity this time.”

“I’d like to know,” Korra said. “If there’s a way to find out, can we check on it?”

I thought about it for a moment. “Certainly,” I answered when my thoughts were finished. I went to the TARDIS controls. “Let’s go ahead, oh, a hundred years? See if there’s anything interesting?”

They nodded.




We stepped back out of the TARDIS on Nantucket. It was still forested around our landing spot, but I could hear people in the distance. The island ahd been re-settled. We followed a path to a clearing where there was a gathering of people. Nearby was a monument of granite and stone. I read the words. “Commemoration of the Change....” I blinked. Why would they call it that when there was no Change?

We made our way through the crowd to an open field. A string of rope tied it off from the spectators; within parents were grooming children and preparing for what looked like a contest or recital of sorts. There were buckets and wood logs and other things about. One contestant was named, a young girl with mixed race ancestry that left her with a light brown complexion. She stepped up to the buckets, bowed, and began to move her arms in a somewhat familiar fashion.

Water came up from the buckets in streams and began to levitate around the girl. Not just levitate, but move, move in motion with her arms, changing only to make all sorts of beautiful shapes in the air.

I admit, my mouth dropped open from astonishment.

“She’s Waterbending,” I heard Korra say in a hushed tone, her voice full of stunned awe.

We stood and watched the festivities continue. A young boy, no older than 12 I imagine, play a guitar by Earthbending a guitar pick with earthen elements in it. Two children, a brother and sister of about 10 and 13 respectively, put on a show of Firebending dancing with what sounded like club dance music that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Fire Nation. Another young girl, this one barely eight I would imagine, squealed as she guided a kite in an air show over our heads.

And as the show went on, I began laughing. I stepped out of the crowd to avoid disturbing their enjoyment and managed to stifle my laughter until we got to a distance. “What is it?”, Asami asked me.

I looked to Korra with what I imagine was an energetic and slightly manic smile. I put my hands on her shoulders. “You magnificent.... information exchange! Alteration of the very fabric of this world on a quantum level, all from your energy!”

Korra always had trouble when I started babbling technobabble. But this time she understood. “When I used my power to restore the Mind, I caused this?”

“Yes!”, I shouted with glee. “You did! The Mind, it wasn’t just some depository for deceased minds, it has a symbiotic relationship with this world, with... with the very core of life here. And when your energy became part of it to heal the Mind, it gained that energy and passed it on. In essence, Korra, you didn’t just save the Mind from its own instability, you passed on the bending arts to this entire world. To both worlds, probably!” Indeed my mind flashed back to the Alston-Kurlelo estate and my view of the wind chimes; their adopted daughter had been Airbending, I was sure of it.

Korra and Asami exchanged amazed looks.

“Excuse me, sir, ladies?” A folksly old man stepped up. Some of his facial structure and the light tint of his skin hinted at some old Native American ancestry, although most of his features were European. “Not from around here? Are you here to celebrate the Anniversary of the Change?”

“Oh, um, certainly,” I said. “I saw the monument, quite lovely. I was just trying to explain it to my friends, but if you know anything better, sir?”

“Of course I do!”, he said happily. “Happened nigh on two hundred years ago. Back when the world was a darker place. One night a dome of light covered this island, and then all of the machines and technology... boom! They went out. No cars, no old T-visions, nothing! Everyone panicked, everyone thought the world was ending. And then everyone saw the light!” The old man clapped his hands. “Blue light, gold light, that sort of thing. And then things came back on. Things looked back to normal until the first elementists started popping up....”

“I’m sure the world was quite interesting back then,” I mused.

“It was sir, it was indeed. Martin, by the way.” He offered his hand and I took it. “My mom’s ancestors were from this island, you know,” Martin said wistfully. “The old Indians who got pulled through on it. Poor people had a rough time, but they did their best to survive. Carried on stories about things going on that night. About a boy and girl of the tribe hearin’ an argument between gods or spirits or something, one side saying we deserved to lose our technology, the other wanting it undone. Lots of folk listen to the story. Lots of folk think there’s truth in it, that maybe whatever did the Change to destroy our society was talked out of it by something, something that gave us this gift to make us a better people. And that’s what things are like now.”

I nodded. “Quite an idea. I trust, however, that you will live up to that sentiment.” I shook his hand. “Good day, Martin.”

He toddled along, heading to the crowd as semi-finals for the event were held. I looked back and found Korra in tears. “I made this world better,” she said quietly. “I didn’t just save it. I actually made it better.”

“Well...” I smiled softly and winked. “You’re the Avatar. I hear it’s all part of the job.”

We returned to the TARDIS. As we got to the door, I heard concern come to Korra’s voice. “I hope the Mind spirit stays stable though.”

“Yes. I imagine over time, if the population gets big enough, it might face the same problem. Of course...”

“What?”

“Well, the mind did this with your essence. Yours and Raava’s,” I said. “Maybe it can do other things with them.” We had arrived at the TARDIS by this point and I opened the door.

Korra stood there and stared at me. “You don’t mean...”

“Just a thought,” I said. I didn’t have to say what thought.

After all, if the Mind feared its balance, or the world’s balance, was coming undone, or even if it felt it needed constant attention.... well, perhaps it could make an Avatar of its own to deal with that issue....




I was working on something later that day when Korra and Asami approached me. “I need to talk to you about something,” Korra said. She looked at Asami, who nodded agreement. “We both do.”

I could see they’d been talking about something. And I had an inkling to what it was.

“When I came with you, I was trying to figure out what I was and what I wanted to be. And after everything that’s happened, i know the answer to that,” Korra said. “I’m the Avatar. I accept that’s what I’ll always be and I know that’s what I actually want. And it’s been great traveling with you and seeing all of these worlds, and helping you save them, I’ll never forget it. But I think it’s time that I got back to work on my own world. I’m ready to go home, Doc.”

I nodded. I... honestly found myself feeling better than I imagined I would when this day came. “I see.” I nodded and widened my arms, prompting her to accept the proffered hug. “That’s wonderful news, Korra.”

“I’ll be going with her,” Asami said. “I’ve been having fun seeing all of these places but I have to get back to running my company and rebuilding Republic City.”

“Of course,” I answered. “And that way you’re home in case Korra needs your help.”

“I know you might get lonely, if you want to stay with us for a while...” Asami began.

“No, no, don’t worry,” I said. “I’m... I’m actually quite happy for you two,” I said. “That you’ve gotten to see the wonders of Creation with me and that you feel like going home now. I understand. And I’ll be just fine, I promise.”

“You’re welcome to visit whenever you want,” Korra assured me. “I mean, I’m not going to be staying home long, I need to start traveling the world and doing what I can to restore balance. But you can find me with the beacon whenever you want, right?”

“Yes. Yes I can.” I went to the TARDIS controls. I couldn’t stop smiling. It was... strange. As much as I loved traveling again, and traveling with them, seeing their astounded and amazed faces whenever they saw a new wonder of creation... I was just as happy to see they were ready to go home. It meant Korra was, if not fully healed, at least well on the track to recovery. She was ready to face her issues and deal with them herself.

After everything that had happened, after my failure to give her the help she’d needed against the Red Lotus, I had succeeded in helping her recover from the result of my failure. It was atonement. And it was one thing I had needed as well. “Alright,” I said. “Go ahead and get your things. I’ll be setting us for a few hours after we left. Wouldn’t want your folks to worry too much, eh? Just let me know when you’re ready...”




We returned to the place where we’d left all those months before. Korra guided Naga out and the polar bear dog, happy to be free from the confines of her (spacy) kennel in the TARDIS, chuffed happily and jumped about.

We were getting their final bags out, with mementos and such, when Tonraq and Senna appeared. They happily embraced Korra. “We’ve been to so many places, I can’t wait to tell you about them,” Korra said to them.

“Thank you, Doctor.” Senna stepped up to me. “Thank you for helping Korra when she needed it and for keeping her safe.”

“It was a mutual effort,” I said. “Korra did the same for me.”

Tonraq summoned the palace’s staff to get their things. “Do you plan on leaving soon?”, he asked me.

I nodded. “Yes, I believe it’s time I got back to work. There are things I need to look into. Things I need to do. Things to consider. That sort of thing.”

“Then I hope you’ll stay for dinner, at least,” he said. “It’s the least I could do for you given the circumstances.”

As things were, I was ready to give one last good try to Water Tribe cuisine, and I was hungry. So I graciously accepted.




That night, the dinner turned into a fond retelling of the worlds we had visited, the aliens and other life forms Korra and Asami had encountered. “....seriously, he looked like a hog monkey,” Asami was saying, recalling one Hoggish Greedley. “A giant hog monkey with a weird voice.”

Korra laughed. “And that corruption spirit they had working for them. One blast of water and he was thrashing around like he was on fire or something!”

There was some laughter around the table at that. I didn’t join in the stories much, letting Korra and Asami take the lead on it. After dinner wrapped up I was ready to leave when Tenzin intercepted me. “I’d like to speak to you,” he said.

“Certainly.” I followed him to the hall leading to the dining room. “What is it?”

“I want to thank you for what you’ve done for Korra,” he said. “I admit I wasn’t happy that you let her go with you. But it’s clear to me now that your journey is exactly what she needed.”

I nodded. “Yes, I rather think it was.”

“Do you know what Korra’s plans are now?”

“I think she intends to start a journey through the Earth Kingdom,” I answered. “You’d have to talk to her for specifics. But she feels that her recovery will best be completed by fulfilling her Avatar duties.”

“It’s a fine idea. The bandit problem is persisting in areas Kuvira’s army hasn’t arrived in yet.”

“I’m sure it’ll make the job easier if they’re working together.”

I didn’t add that it would hopefully make sure that the young Metalbender they’d left in charge of the cleanup didn’t take things too far.




I was returning to the TARDIS to leave when Korra and Asami caught up to me, Naga trailing behind with tail wagging. “Where are you heading?”, Asami asked.

“Oh, I don’t know. Ankh-Morpork maybe, been a while since I gave a lecture at the University, would like to put the pointy hat back on,” I answered. “Or maybe just a quiet world to relax a little.”

“Wherever you go, I’m sure it’ll be just as exciting as anything I end up doing.” Korra’s arms opened and we exchanged a heartfelt hug. “Thank you so much for letting us go.”

“Thank you for coming,” I answered. “It would have been lonely otherwise.”

“It was such a great trip.” Asami hugged me next. “And I learned a lot that I can use to make our world better.”

“Always a good thing,” I agreed. A moment later Naga nuzzled me with her massive muzzle. I patted her on the head. “Ah, you too eh? I gave Korra a full box of those jumbo size doggy biscuits you like, so you’ll find them with her.” I ruffled at the fur on her ear. “No more cramped TARDIS bay for you, at least.”

That got me a low whine, as if Naga could remember how cramped it was to try and get out the TARDIS door.

I looked to the others as I released her. “You have those temporal beacons, right?”

Korra nodded and showed me the one on her belt. “Of course.”

“Good. Call if you need me.” I nodded. “And I will be there.”

“I know.” Korra nodded, smiling widely. She decided to give me another tight hug, as if the first wasn’t enough. “You’ve helped me so much.”

I gave her a soft pat on the shoulder. “I’ve done what I can, and you did the same for me. Now, go out there and show the world that their Avatar is back and that she’s better than ever, eh?”

“I’ll make sure they know it, I promise.”

I didn’t enter the TARDIS until they had entered the palace proper. I watched them walk away and pondered the months of our journey. The exciting and dangerous moments, the happy ones, and those where we pondered the wounds we had carried with us when we first left this place. We had gone through an experience together on this trip, the three of us, and it had done its work. We were healed. Korra and Asami had enjoyed a splendid time together and seemed closer than other, like true sisters of the soul I thought.

Of course, given Asami’s mannerisms when Korra looked to be on death’s door after healing the Mind, maybe I was wrong about that too.

Oh, bah, I have more important things to ponder than relationship scopes. I’ll leave that to you types. You lot love that kind of thing, don’t deny it.

Of course, when it came to the debt I felt toward Korra, my work was not yet done. I had one more duty to perform for Korra. A final thing to undo the damage done to her by my absence when she needed me most.

I had to find out how to restore her link to the prior Avatars.

And I was convinced I would manage it, perhaps in a day or in a year or in a century. I would manage it.

I stepped back into the control room, closed the door quietly, and went to the TARDIS controls to shift out.

It was strange to be alone again after so long. But... well, it wasn’t as bad as the prior times. I didn’t feel lonely and agonized. I felt uplifted, happy. We had enjoyed a good run and it was over. I was ready to face the six dimensions again. Alone, true, but not on a mad rampage or a desperate campaign of fixing my errors. And out there somewhere I knew I would find someone who was interested in seeing the entirety of Creation with me. Someone I could count upon. I wouldn’t be lonely for too long.

I shifted the TARDIS into the Time Vortex and found myself looking at Katherine’s amethyst necklace, still where I always kept it hanging. I sometimes cried when I looked at it. Even after that time on Mogo. But now I couldn’t help but smile. I felt more whole now than I had in a long while. The issues with my name, well... I would settle that once and for all, but on my own time. For now there was the open road, a wide scope of dimensions to explore, and relatively speaking, all of the time in the...

The TARDIS rocked under my feet. I was forced to grab the railing across from the control surface so that I didn’t fail. I stumbled over the rumbling to the monitor on the controls and surveyed... what was that? A massive dislocation, multi-dimensional. Something big and powerful had punched a hole and it was...

Across from me, on the other side of the controls, space-time ripped open. I was shocked by that. It had managed to do so even inside the TARDIS, despite all precautions of the Gallifreyan technology at my disposal. There was a loud sound, a rushing of air, and the swirling blues of the vortex moved about each other. A figure came tumbling out.

I moved around the controls as the prone newcomer started to get up. A hand darted out and took the railing, using it so that the figure could get to her knees. For it was a woman. A young-looking lady. Her wear was a tattered and ripped robe of purple, a lighter shade than my own tie or sonic screwdriver. Long hair of blue color, with some kept in a long pony-tail by an orange band, all of it now misshapen. When she looked up at me I could see the confusion and bewilderment in her blue eyes. “What... What is.... Where?” Her accent came off as refined through the TARDIS translator. It was reflecting to my ear a highly-born tone. Someone who knew to speak softly in the fashion of the upper class, if without the condescension that usually came with the like.

I blinked.

I recognized her.

The only word that could come from my throat was a surprised squeak of “What?”

The young lady up-righted herself further, keeping her eyes on me. “Sir? Where am I? Who are you?” She seemed to find her footing.

What?”, I repeated, still lost in utter confusion.

She blinked at me, still looking rather confused, about as confused as me. Her voice maintained a gentleness to it despite her clear bewilderment. “I apologize, I seem to... I am Princess Schala of the Kingdom of Zeal. I don’t mean any harm, I just want to know where I am.”

I tried to give her a reply.

But all that came out was another single word query.

What?!

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-19 11:25am

2014 Christmas Special
"The Spirit of the Name"


Ah, Christmas. Such a wonderful little holiday, whether it's Festivus or Saturnalia or Hogswatch or the Wintermeet... the general idea of commemorating the shortest day of the year with gift sharing and family gathering can be found in several cultures. With appropriate variations of course.

This was to be a special Christmas, though.

Ah, but I get ahead of myself. It wasn't Christmas yet. I had just left a very Christmasy place, though; the main city of the Southern Water Tribe, where I had left my friends and now former Companions Avatar Korra and Asami Sato to resume their lives after many an adventure amidst the wonders of Creation. I had departed their company, intending for a small rest and then checking up on my good friend Mustrum Ridcully and his fine establishment, when space-time ripped open inside of my TARDIS and deposited a young woman in my midst.

Her name was Schala. She was a magic-wielding Princess of the splendid yet decadent magical kingdom of Zeal, a land that had floated in the sky until they sought to use the wrong power and, well, suffered the usual fate for decadent civilizations that meddle with Eldritch Abominations.

Talk about a turn for the unexpected.

Anyway, I stared at a young woman whom I knew should not be in my TARDIS and couldn't stop my confusion from leading to showing a limited vocabulary.

"What?!"

I suppose I sounded like a broken record. And for a young woman who had just been thrown across six dimensions of space-time after watching everything she loved burn at the hands of an eons-old planet-killing parasite, well, it was probably not very encouraging for her either.

I had so many questions. How had the Gate - I was sure it was a Time Gate - gotten into the TARDIS despite its protection systems? Why? What had happened that drew it to me?

Before I could regain my vocabulary or hope to speak further, the TARDIS shook under us. No, shook doesn't do that justice. It felt like an angry toddler with a nervous disorder had grabbed the TARDIS and was shaking it about. I lost my footing and hit the ground, as did the new arrival. The floor slid out from under us and I started falling toward the door, which opened. I cried out an unintelligible word of surprise and shock and barely grabbed the rail. Below me the Time Vortex yawned hungrily. If we fell in, then we would die in it.

A sharp cry prompted me to look over. Schala had grabbed at some wiring under my control station and was holding onto it. But the wires were slipping. She would fall any moment and most likely go right out the door. I shifted myself over on the railing and prepared myself. Sparks flew as the wires snapped from their connections under the console. Schala screamed as she fell across the floor and toward the Vortex below.

I caught her with my hand, wrapping it around her wrist. The strain pulled at my shoulder and nearly ripped me free from my grip on the railing. "Climb onto my back!", I shouted. "Put your arms around my shoulders!"

I was looking down, trying to focus on those blue eyes and the disheveled blue hair and not the golden maelstrom outside of the door. "You can do it!", I urged her.

I seemed to jolt Schala into action with that. She grunted with effort trying to pull herself up, aided by my arm. She got up to my back. I felt her hands trying to find purchase. One grabbed at my sonic disruptor.

Before I could warn her, she tried to put her weight on it. This ripped the loop on my belt that held it in place. She shrieked at the lost handhold and swung away, all pressure now going on my arm and the hand holding her up. I saw the sonic disruptor fall from her hand and out the door.

That was irritating. But no time to grieve for it. "Keep going, don't look down!", I shouted at her.

She acknowledged me by grabbing at my belt and using that handhold to continue pulling herself up. She managed to get high enough to put her hand on my shoulder and that was enough to finish lifting her up. Her arms went around my shoulders and her hands clasped at the wrists. I had to shift to keep her from choking me. "Hold on!", I shouted. With one hand on the railing - and my grip failing - I used the other hand to fish my sonic screwdriver out of my pocket. I held it up toward the TARDIS controls and pressed a switch.

My emergency shift system kicked in. The TARDIS looked for a nearby coordinate that I had listed as safe and moved us there. The engine protested with a strange vibration pattern, but she didn't fail.

Unfortunately, the damage the TARDIS had suffered meant it came back into "realspace" at a three dimensional velocity. In the air. I saw white snowfields and trees below us. And no sonic disruptor to try and absorb our landing. Drat. Still, I had no choice. If we were still here when we hit the ground, without being secured to something? Even my strength couldn't keep a grip. We'd be bounced around inside the TARDIS like rag dolls and there was no telling what horrific injuries we might endure. We had no choice; we had to jump out before she hit the ground.

Which was also going to bloody hurt.

"Keep holding on!", I shouted as I let go. We fell through the door and into about thirty feet of air. The TARDIS started slamming into trees along the ridge.

We would have landed hard and I would have been injured. But these things didn't happen. I felt a course of energy around me and our speed slowed. There was the faintest of glows in the air around us that slowed my fall until I literally hopped to a stop. I knelt low to let my passenger sit down. "Ah, thank you," I said to her. "Some sort of levitation magic?"

"Something like that," she said softly. She looked around us. We were in the middle of a dark forest. "Sir, who are you? What's going on?"

"Oh, I'm a Time Lord." I heard the TARDIS crash a distance away and looked toward the proper direction. "Come along."

"Time Lord?" I could hear her footfalls in the snow as she rushed to catch up with me. "I've never heard of such a thing."

"We're not native to your cosmos, that's why," I answered. "I travel in six dimensions of space-time. As for what's going on, I'd like to find that out as well. That Gate that dropped you in the TARDIS should not have been able to form as it did. Anyway, young lady, may I ask what your last memory was?"

I kept moving as I said this. There was something about this place that put me on edge. I heard the young woman struggle to keep up. "I was facing Lavos," she answered. "A Gate opened up beneath me..."

"Yes, I imagine so," I replied.

I would have asked more but I had something else to take care of. The TARDIS was leaning against a partially-fallen tree. I had to crawl up on a partial stump to get my foot in it. "W'oh, w'oh there," I murmured as I felt my balance slip. The entrance was at an incline. And the interior alignment was offline as well. The TARDIS was literally tipped backward by about forty degrees, making foot holds precarious. The interior lights were dim or completely out. Sparks were still fizzling from exposed wiring. "Oh, my poor girl," I said wistfully. I carefully descended the walkway to the controls and surveyed the damage. "She's on emergency power. Most of the rooms have been removed. Yes, good...." I tried to bring up sensor data, but that was among the systems knocked out. "Alright, we can't stay here," I finally said. I reached for my emergency supplies - medigel, first aid stuff, a few trinkets I carry along - and slung them over a shoulder.

"It's bigger on the inside," I heard Schala say. Her head was poking out over the entrance. She was standing on the lowest stump to see inside.

"Yes. Gallifreyan technology, very useful." Looking back I saw her shiver. It was rather cold outside and her robes were too tattered to provide effective protection. I reached for my parka and a blue parka that had once been Katherine's. I took the latter and threw it to Schala. "Here, put that on."

She nodded and did so.

I let down my bag and put my own parka on before lifting it again. I gave a last look to my poor damaged TARDIS. "I'll be back girl, just focus on getting better." I clambered up the walkway carefully and got to the end without slipping, using handholds at some points where I had to. I jumped down to the stump beside Schala. "Now, you represent quite the mystery my dear, but for now we need to find some civilization." I held up the sonic and triggered the TARDIS door to close and lock. "That should keep unwanted visitors away."

"Do you know where we are?"

"A cold, dark forest in winter, probably full of hungry animals that may want to eat us," I replied. "Now, you fell through a Gate, and...?"

"And... I really don't know, I just remember feeling sad for my people. And I remember a boy crying and I thought to reach out to him..."

I nodded. "Ah. Yes. I see. And after that?"

"And after that..."

We were interrupted by a growling snarl from the darkness. I directed my sonic in the appropriate direction. More snarls came from around us. "Stay close to me and be ready to run," I whispered. I reached for my sonic disruptor.

...and it was not there. Of course. It fell out into the Time Vortex. That would make things harder.

Schala extended a hand. Globes of white light came from her palm and expanded, lighting up the trees around us to provide shape to the snarling forms.

I had expected wolves. And it was a wolf form that was emerging ahead of us.

It's just that wolves didn't sparkle. Wolves didn't look like they were made from exquisitely carved crystal. Wolves were not made of ice and of snow.

"Ready?", I asked her quietly.

"I believe so," she answered, her tone quiet.

"On my mark. Get set. Aaaaaand..." I raised the sonic and triggered a harmonic disruption.

The wolf shattered like glass and collapsed to powder.

"Now!" I pulled her along with me into the gap I'd just made in their circle. The other beasts - or whatever they were - did not react before we were clear. Of course, they still had the advantage of four limbs over two so our momentary advantage in distance would disappear quickly if we made it a chase.

Which is why I didn't.

We got a short distance away and I turned back, this time with the harmonic disruption set to a wide ranged field. I heard squeals of animal rage and shattering ice. Several creatures hobbled out of the wood.

And two that were whole came at us from the flanks.

I pulled Schala out of the way just in time. They slammed into each other, caused cracks in one another, and slowly went to stand.

Bright purple light came from Schala's hands. I felt the energy of our environs shift perceptibly. Kinetic force came down on the two creatures, binding them to the ground for the moment. I looked at her and grinned. "Nice job. Now give me a second and..."

I pointed the sonic at them to shatter them. As I did so, more shrieks were coming from the distance. There were more of the blasted things.

"Quick, while we still can!", I shouted, grabbing Schala's right hand and pulling her along. We ran along the snow until the forest cleared and we were on a roadway. I huffed a little and scanned with the sonic screwdriver. The things were still in the distance, hunting us in the forest. If we moved quickly down the road, we could get away.

I took in our current position. It was an old stone roadway leading up to the mountains. In the other direction, I could see faint lights in the distance.

I let my vision settle on the sight. Ah, of course, I knew that shape.

"Do you know where we are?", Schala asked me.

"Oh, oh yes I do," I answered. "It's Arendelle. Nice, cozy little fjord kingdom, lovely place I..."

I stopped mid-sentence. As my main overlaid the details of Arendelle's shape against the fjord and mountains, I realized the lights were off. The city was darker than it should be.

And there were lights in the water beyond the fjord.

A lot of lights.

So many that they could only be one thing.

An invasion fleet.

Ice wolves. Now this? I had a bad feeling that my troubles had only just begun.




It was going to be a long walk. But it had to be done.

We walked along the road quietly, not speaking, straining to hear for any further ice wolf attacks. we got to the city without incident.

Arendelle was quiet. Only dim lights showed through the windows. "This place is full of fear," Schala said.

"Well, there's a fleet off their coast," I said, but I could feel it was something more. The palpable dread in the streets. "Although I am wondering why they have no one on patrols."

We walked toward the city square. Down one path was the long road to the bridge that led to the Arendelle Royal Palace. The city's lifelessness made it eerie and, honestly, very ominous.

I pondered checking out the city's inn and walked toward it, hoping to see if there was any activity inside. Any at all.

And I felt it then. A sort of... energy. It wasn't familiar to me.

"Something's wrong."

I turned toward Schala just in time to yell, "Duck!"

She hit the ground and avoided a clawed swipe. The claw was made of ice and wood. Behind her, a figure loomed. An impossible figure with jagged ice teeth and a build that was deceptive in the danger it portrayed.

"You've got to be kidding!", I shouted angrily as the killer snowman charged swiped at Schala again. She rolled away from it and let me help her back to her feet. I held out the sonic screwdriver and tried to disrupt its neurological systems, but it didn't work. I was really starting to miss my sonic disruptor.

I heard similar noises from around the square. More of the literally-abominable snowmen were coming from the darkness. And their teeth and clawed branches looked oh so very sharp.

No wonder people were staying inside. No, for me the mystery was.... ice wolves and now this, and where was Elsa? Why would she let this happen?

I tried the harmonic disruption trick and took one down, but the rest were coming in quickly and there was far too many for me to take down with the sonic screwdriver. It was, after all, a tool, not a weapon. I knew we had only one chance for safety. We had to get to the Palace. "Hold on!" I grabbed Schala's hand and led her in that direction, ravenous and murderous snowmen hot on our heels.

We ran across the snow-covered bridge out to the palace and got to the gates. The snowmen were right behind us. "Hello! Hello, is anyone on gate duty?!", I shouted, pounding at the gate It was locked and barred. I pulled out the sonic screwdriver to try and access the locking mechanism. "Schala, your magic, does it include a magic shield or something?!"

She raised her hands and a shimmer of blue light appeared in a half-dome around us. The first snowman slammed into it and dissolved into a pile of snow and ice. The others stopped and started raking their fingers on it. "I'm not sure how long I can hold this," she warned me.

"Come on, come on...", I muttered, trying to catch the locks with the screwdriver. I got one. But it was, well, a bloody heavy gate made to be secured against outside attackers, and the locks inside were bloody huge and difficult to move with the screwdriver.

Schala moaned and faltered to a knee as the attackers continued to slam on the shield. Sweat was pouring down her face from exertion, every erg of her essence going into a shield she had probably never had reason to use before. The battering continude without end. And if it went down, we would be ripped to bloody pieces.

Another part of the lock gave. I was almost there. But... I didn't think I'd make it in time.

I would be too late.

There was a howling wind behind the attacking snowmen. A cone of ice and snow grew to about fifteen feet and coalesced into the form of what I would describe as an ice or snow golem of sorts. You know what I'm talking about, yes? Anyway, the creature roared and started batting his meaty snow hands at the snowmen, crushing and dispersing them into snow and shattered ice.

This bought us time. Particularly it bought me time to finish opening the lock. I swung the gate open and we entered the area before the second gate, where one might have once found a porticullis. I slammed the outer gate behind me and used the screwdriver to reset the lock, far faster than unlocking it had been.

The inner gate opened. Two Arendelle guards with halberds forward appeared, flanking a modestly-dressed young man with blond hair and a round nose. Kristoff gestured towards us. "Get in! Hurry!"

I led Schala into the inner gate and more guards slammed it behind us. I let out a huff and looked to them. "Alright, what's going on here?"

"Everything... it's all going wrong, that's what," Kristoff managed. "It's a miracle you got here when you did."

I sighed. It actually wasn't, not by a long shot. No, it was a bloody annoyance; I already had enough problems with the TARDIS being so horribly damaged and the mystery of Schala's arrival in my TARDIS, now something was wrong in Arendelle?

The curse of popularity.

"Where is Elsa?", I asked.

He pointed up to one of the bedrooms in the main building of the palace. A window was open facing the courtyard. Elsa stood in it.

Or rather, she was slumped against it, held back from falling out by servants.

"What's wrong?", I asked Kristoff. "She doesn't look well."

"We don't know. I mean, she started getting sick a few weeks ago and then it just got worse and..." He swallowed. "...she's dying."

I frowned and looked back up. "Take me to her. Take me to her now."




Elsa was kept in her bedchamber. An attending royal physician was applying a wet cloth to drab sweat from her forehead when we entered. Her hair, normally kept in an elegant ponytail, was disheveled into dry golden strands. Her blue eyes tried to focus on us. But I could see the haze in them. I pulled out the sonic screwdriver and went up to the side of the bed. "Thank you," I said to her.

"She should not have gotten out of bed," the physician said harshly. His gray eyes were locked on Elsa. He had a graying beard and long, period-style hair for higher class persons.

"It had to be... done..." Elsa looked at me. I could sense her will pushing through the misery and affliction, forcing away groggy thoughts to complete the task she had set ahead of her. "Doctor. Please, help my people."

"I plan on it," I said. "And I'm going to start by helping you." I looked at the sonic's readings.

Schala stepped up beside me and held a hand out over Elsa. "She's grown very weak."

I could confirm that. It looked like Elsa was on the verge of multiple organ failure. But I couldn't see any proximate cause. There was no physical damage. There was no sign of toxins in her body, no radiation, no injuries. Her body was simply shutting down. Like something was drawing all of the strength from her. "Damn peculiar," I murmured. "How long?"

"Twenty days," the physician answered. "Sir? I am Doctor Symons, I don't believe we've had the honor...?"

"We haven't," I answered. I switched the sonic scanning pattern to look for something, anything. Something like this indicated an exotic problem with a similarly exotic solution. I tried to think of where I might have seen similar. As I looked around I finally realized why my brain was calling attention to a detail. Or rather, a lack of one. "Where's Anna?", I asked. "She wouldn't leave her sister in this state. Where has she gone?"

Symons looked to Kristoff. He seemed rather upset and lowered his eyes. "She went to see Pabbie again."

"Why wasn't it... wait, again?"

"I went last week. When we knew Elsa was really sick," Kristoff answered. "Grand Pabbie doesn't have any idea what's wrong either. He just said that there was something dark in the world. But Anna said she received a letter that he'd discovered something and went back to see him."

"Why didn't she bring you?", I asked, not believing he would do that. "You didn't..."

"She was gone this morning," Kristoff revealed. "She didn't give me a chance and just took Olaf with her. And believe me, I tried to find her! I spent a day riding with Sven, but I couldn't find her, and the trolls haven't seen her. And... and I came back here when it was getting dark. I can't go back out until the morning."

"Those snowmen? And the ice wolves? When have they been a thing?" Already possibilities were gathering in my head.

"For the past week," Kai - the stout palace chamberlain - answered. "We issued an edict advising everyone to stay indoors at night. The guards have tried and failed to fight those monsters. The Queen was asleep for three days after her last attempt to fight them."

"And now there is an invasion fleet off your fjord." I frowned. "A mysterious letter to bring Anna away. Something drawing away the very essence of Elsa's life and monsters of ice and snow terrorizing the countryside."

"They're all connected, aren't they?", Kristoff asked.

"I would suggest so, yes," I answered. "The force behind this has intentions for this land. In fact, I wonder..." I looked to Schala who was quiet at Elsa's bedside. She looked tired while focusing on the ailing queen. "Schala, your own abilities, can you sense anything else amiss with Elsa?"

Schala raised a hand over Elsa's chest. It quivered as gentle white light shined briefly at her palm. "The magic here flows so differently," she said. "It's so pure and clean, I... sorry, I am trying to concentrate on this. There is something strange in her aura. A pull..."

"A pull." I frowned. "Of course. Of course!" As the answer came to me I snapped my fingers. "Whatever this... this force is, it's literally draining power from Elsa's body. It's formed a parasitic connection and is drawing energy from her at the most basic level. That's why her body is shutting down. It's... it's literally having trouble keeping itself functioning."

"She doesn't have long," Schala said. "But I think I can help her."

"You can?" Kai stepped forward. "Are you sure?"

"Are you?", I asked, repeating the question. "You're exhausted and tired, Schala, can you heal this?"

"I cannot heal, but I can shield her from whatever is drawing power from her. For a while. I am... not sure how strong it is, or if I can hold it." Schala's eyes met mine. "But I will try."

There was determination in her eyes. And something else. I realized it after a moment.

Guilt.

"Can I speak to my friend alone, please?", I asked everyone. I gestured to her to follow me into the hall. I went to the door and waited until she joined me.

When we stepped into it I turned. "There is more to this than mere helping," I said. "Is there any risk involved?"

I met her eyes. The same guilt as before was my answer, now mixed with sadness. "The force drawing away her power may draw mine as well," Schala admitted. "It may even be able to keep that connection to me when I cut my power away from Elsa's."

"So you would be putting yourself at risk as well?"

"Yes. But it doesn't matter. She wants to help her people and they need her. It's worth the sacrifice."

I detected more to it from that statement. "Not the risk. The sacrifice. Is this guaranteed then?"

"I don't know for sure," she admitted. "but it wouldn't matter if it was. I must do this." Her eyes lowered and closed. "I must atone."

I realized she was trembling. Her face slowly twisted into a look of pain. I put a hand on her shoulder. "Come now, no need to feel like that."

"My people didn't deserve to die," she said in a low, troubled tone. The first hints of tears appeared at the corner of her eyes. "We made mistakes. My mother lost her mind. But... I should have stopped her. I should have found a way. And then... Lavos would not have destroyed us. We would have survived and..."

I swallowed and looked at her. It wasn't surprising that the young woman was suffering so much. She had lost her entire civilization, a people she was supposed to help lead. So many of her people had died and so much of their ways were lost. I saw that she needed the support and set a hand on her shoulder. "I know the feeling," I said quietly. "My people were nearly wiped out. Our home of Gallifrey was reduced to ruin and the survivors are locked away in a pocket universe that I can't reach, that I can't even find." I wiped the tear from her face. "Schala, I appreciate you wanting to help Queen Elsa, but don't throw your life away."

"Why not? What is there for me?" For the first time I heard a harsh tone in her voice. "Why should it matter?"

"Life matters," I answered. "I've learned that in my travels. With life there is hope. Don't give up on your's."

For a moment, nothing was said. Her head inclined slightly, a gesture of a nod. "I understand," she said. "I will keep my safety in mind."

"Good." I gave a thin smile in reply and led her back into the room.




A few hours passed. We were in the deep of night. Kristoff had maintained his vigil while I had walked off to check on some materials I needed. Schala was provided a chair, a robe for the warmth of the room, and sat beside Elsa's bed. She had one hand to Elsa's shoulder and the other to her forehead. Beads of sweat had long formed on her face as well. I could sense energy shifting around them.

It was working. Elsa's vitals were picking up. And for the moment, Schala's remained stable. She had blocked whatever this... malevolent force was without jeopardizing herself. But that was only the start of our trouble. "We need to find Anna," I said to Kristoff. I saw worry showing through his bleary and exhausted face. "Whatever is going on, removing her is the key to this foe's plan. It stands to reason we restore it."

"So we leave in the morning?"

"No." I shook my head. "We leave now."

He made a face. "How do we get past the killer snowmen?"

I smirked and reached into my jacket, revealing a glass flask of lamp oil. "I modified the oil, it burns hotter now," I answered. "And I can set it on fire with my sonic. You drive, I ignite and throw, and we rely on Sven to get us clear."

"Shouldn't you wait until morning?", Doctor Symons asked. "How will you find them in the dark?"

"I have my ways," I answered. "Now, we should...."

I was interrupted by a loud noise. It was one I had recently heard and I knew what it was just as it formed nearby.

A Gate.

It formed inside the room, on the far wall from the foot of the bed. I was about to ponder who was coming through this time when the air around me shifted, spiraling toward the gate with tremendous power. Everyone cried out and reached for something to hold. Kristoff managed to get a hand on the door handle and hold on to Symons. Schala grabbed the pole at the foot of the bed and used a free hand to grab Elsa's weak form as it went past, taking her wrist. Exertion showed on the young mage princess' face. She was not unfit, but she wasn't very strong physically either, and the pressure of holding on with one arm and holding Elsa's weight with the other was getting to be too much.

I had myself grabbed at the other bed pole. I found the suction wasn't very great on me and I was able to pull myself to hold my body against the pole with the arms and free my hands. I scrambled for my sonic screwdriver and held it toward the Gate. If I could find the right energy pulse, it might serve to close the Gate.

I cycled through them as quickly as I could. "Take her!", I heard Schala shout. Her face twisted in pain as she struggled against the flow to extend Elsa toward me.

"It'll just be a minute!", I shouted. "Hold on!"

"I can't!" She looked directly at me. "I think it..."

And then her grip slipped.

I acted as quickly as I could. I felt my fingers wrap around Elsa's wrist and my shoulder felt like it would be ripped off as the weight of the two young ladies being sucked in by the Gate pulled against my limb. I ruminated at the repeat of my prior experience hovering over the Time Vortex. This was getting bloody old.

I knew I couldn't hold them like this for long. And nor could I use my screwdriver without shifting my weight and ruining what leverage I did have to hold us away.

But I had to act. Because if I didn't... we would all be sucked in.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-20 12:10pm

We might have been sucked in if not for Kristoff.

He released himself from his grip and began walking toward us, step by step defying the pull of the out of control Gate. That sight didn't seem reasonable to me. For something to be pulling this hard at me, it should tear him off of his feet.

But it didn't.

With the practice of a man used to walking on ice for a living, Kristoff kept his balance and made it to us. "Take the screwdriver!", I shouted at him. "Point and press!" I couldn't shift myself to make it easier for him to retrieve it from the hand of my arm wrapped around the bedpost.

Kristoff maneuvered under us and got his arm up to take the screwdriver. He turned and pressed it. The purple tip lit up.

The sonic had finished its scan of the Gate and the energy it put out acted as a destabilizing influence on it. The Gate flickered and crackled for a moment before it collapsed. A moment before it did I lost my grip on Elsa, who hit the floor beside Schala. I slumped against the bedpole and nearly landed on Kristoff. He rolled out of the way and looked to me. He was breathing hard. So was I, admittedly. Time Lords have their own equivalent to adrenaline rushes and the like. I extended my hand and took the screwdriver from him. "Good show there."

"What was that?", he asked.

"Unstable inter-dimensional Gate," I answered. "A similar Gate disabled my TARDIS before I crashed here." I went over to where the young ladies had fallen and lifted the stricken Elsa up. I put her back in bed. When I looked back, Schala was still staring at the floor. I noticed a look on her face. "Is something wrong?", I asked.

"I..." She seemed to struggle for her voice. "I think that Gate wanted me. I think it was drawn to me. I felt the energy in it like it was... was linked to me."

Well, that would be bloody annoying. "Then there's no way we can leave you here to help Elsa," I sighed. "We can't risk that Gate opening again with just the two of you." I ran a quick scan of Elsa. "She's still doing better. I think we've bought her some time. A few hours at least."

"Woh, three people is going to slow down Sven," Kristoff protested. "He might not be able to pull us out of danger quickly enough."

"A good thing I made plenty of oil bombs," I said. I looked to Schala. "And a good thing we have a mage princess along, eh?"

"I'm not a fighter," Schala reminded us. "I don't know combat magic very well."

I wasn't surprised at that. I found myself missing Korra; her skills would have easily dealt with this threat. But there was more than one way to deal with this. "What about anything that could help Kristoff's reindeer go faster?"

"Well, there is one spell I can try, but it will require him to pick up speed," Schala said. "And I will need to be given complete concentration for it to work."

"What kind of magic are you talking about?", Kristoff asked.

She told him. He didn't look to pleased by it either.

I had to hide the smile at how damned fitting it felt.




The guards opened the gates at Kristoff's signal and with a flip of the reins he had Sven running out of the doors, picking up speed even before we crossed the last gates. Ahead of us there were no immediate enemies. But snow was already congealing to form them. In the back seat of the sleigh I had a flask of oil and my sonic ready should it be needed.

Beside Kristoff in the front seat Schala was holding her hands to the sleigh's front. I felt power thrum around her and into the sleigh.

Ahead of us, the snow congealed into the snowmen. They turned towards us, presented their sharp icy teeth, and began to coalesce on our position. Several ahead of us raised arms, ready to claw Sven down. Kristoff kept him going despite the danger.

And then.... we were airborne.

Schala's magic was kinetic conversion, turning some of our forward velocity into lift. Sven's hoofs struck the snowmen ahead of us as we lifted clear of them. "Don't stop, Sven, you're keeping us airborne!" I saw the reindeer's legs continue to wheel in mid-air, not finding purchase exactly but seeming to continue pushing against something.

We gained some altitude and moved beyond Arendelle proper. In the distance the lights of the invasion fleet continued to burn. I frowned at the sight. In this age, it took time to assemble a force like that. Elsa's sickness would have taken weeks to be reported anywhere. To get news and then form such a fleet was not feasible.

Not unless you were warned it was coming.

We were over a hundred feet in the air before Schala began lowering us. We hit the road with a jolt. Sven stumbled a moment and found his footing before he could trip. "Good show," I said. "Remind me to get some carrots."

"So, we're out of Arendelle," Kristoff said. "How do you think we can find Anna?"

"By finding Olaf," I answered. I held up the sonic. "He has a unique energy signature that the sonic screwdriver can track." I turned it on and watched the purple tip light up. "This way!"

And off we went.




The sun was starting to appear on the horizon as we came down into one of the valleys on the outskirts of Arendelle's borders. In summer one would have seen peasant fields and the villages and small towns that supported Elsa's capital. But here, in the middle of winter, it was all one white field of snow.

Schala had seemed to fall asleep and Kristoff was quiet with contemplation, leaving me to my thoughts. The problems going on in Arendelle were the work of manipulator, I was certain, and a master of multi-element plans. Besides the facts I had thoughts that seemed to go with them. For one thing, if whatever this force was could steal Elsa's power, it could also use it. The damage such an entity could do was terrifying. Especially if, as I pondered, the foe in question was using that power on other countries as well. ti would turn them against Arendelle and most certainly be fatal to Elsa.

Schala's head moved. She looked back at me and let me see her tired blue eyes. "So, when you say you're a Time Lord, what does that mean?"

"That I'm a Time Lord," I answered. "We're from Gallifrey. Very old, advanced civilization. Our technology lets us travel across multiple dimensions of space-time."

"What is it you do, then?", she asked.

"Oh, I travel, explore, see the sights, help out. I've saved a couple of galaxies along the way as well. Quite a few worlds. It's... what I do."

She nodded in acknowledgement. "Why do you do this?"

A good question, I had to admit, which I did. "A very good question, Schala. The answer is..." I made a face and shrugged. "...because it's what I want to do, I suppose. It's what makes me, well, me."

She looked at me intently for a moment. "That is what you feel, yes," she finally said. "You just travel then?"

"And make friends, quite a few in fact." I smiled at her. "Including a rather nice young fellow with spiky red-colored hair that, I believe, is a former acquaintance of yours."

Her face paled. Oh, for the love of... I was such an idiot. She didn't know. "I'm sorry," she said. "But Crono is..."

"...alive, actually," I finished for her. "Sorry, Schala. I should have remembered you didn't know that."

"I saw him destroyed," Schala said.

"You saw a lifelike replica destroyed," I replied. "One of your Gurus finished the Chrono Trigger."

For a moment she didn't react. Then she started to smile, radiantly so. It looked good on her. "He's alive." The sunlight creeping over the mountains created flickers of light with the tears on her cheeks. "He's actually alive."

"And doing well," I added. "Well, I had to displace him and his wife in time by about 15 years to keep a Fixed Point intact, but still, quite well." I kept my smile gentle. "Your brother joined them to defeat Lavos, in fact."

"Lavos is.... he is really...?"

"Dead." Mostly, I thought to myself. I had a sudden realization now at just what power was trying to draw Schala into the Gate that appeared. The power she was fated to be forcibly merged with in the oblivion of the inter-dimensional spaces.

That indeed seemed the most likely reason. Whatever caused her to get out of that... something was pulling her back in. And it might even be something she couldn't escape. Not without disruption of her world's timeline.

That possibility chilled me. Not simply from existing, but because I didn't know if I could ever bring myself to causing Schala to go back there. No matter the stake. It would be cruel.

The discussion might have continued but my sonic's whirring picked up. "We're close," I said. I surveiled our surroundings. We were along a pathway moving along the side of the eastern mountain. "This is the border, isn't it?"

"Close. Sjaeland is on the other end," Kristoff answered.

"I sometimes forget how small Arendelle actually can be," I said, sweeping my sonic. I motioned him to stop and jumped down into the snow. I led us along the mountain path and away from it slightly. A slight incline of rock challenged my ability to get to the ledge I was being directed toward. I managed it in about a minute.

On the ledge, I saw a round ball of snow. Several, in fact. I walked up to it and noticed there were others beside it.

A single carrot stuck out the side of the smallest ball. And I saw the edge of a wooden stick barely breaking out of another.

"Poor fellow," I murmured. I held out the sonic. Olaf was still "alive", so to speak. But something had been done to him, something that had blown him apart and made him too weak to pull back together. "Schala!", I shouted. "I need your help!"

Behind me Kristoff finished getting up on the ledge. He reached down and helped Schala up. She walked up to me at a brisk pace. "What can I do?"

"Can you give him enough energy to reconstitute?", i asked.

She studied the remains for a moment. Her hand came up. I suspected she was examining the magics of Elsa that had sustained Olaf even in summer. "I believe so." She brought her hands down and brilliant light came from them and permeated the snow.

Eyes popped into existence on one of the snowballs, which formed into Olaf's head. His body reconstituted from the heap of snow. "Hey, where am I? Elsa?"

"Her name is Schala," I said. "Hello Olaf."

"Doctor, am I glad to see you! And Kristoff!"

Kristoff knelt down by Olaf. "Where's Anna?", she asked urgently.

"I don't know. I'm trying to remember but..." He gasped suddenly. "That's right, we were attacked by some guys in furs before we got to the trolls!"

"Did you recognize them? Any identifying markings?", I asked.

"I'm trying to think. They were really kind of ugly. They wore reindeer skins."

"Sounds like Northerners," Kristoff said. "Sometimes they move south and raid on roads. I've never seen them this far south before. Not in Arendelle."

"Then we should presume they're hirelings. Any idea where they might have gone?"

"Probably going back home," Kristoff said. "I know the roads leading north along the mountains." He shook his head. "But they have nearly a day's head start on us and they'll have sleighs of their own. I'll never catch them in the sleigh, even if it was just by myself."

"Not ordinarily." I looked to Schala. "Think you could manage keeping us aloft for a long while?"

"Easily," she answered.

Kristoff nodded and headed to the edge of the ledge. "Then let's go."




The sun was well into the sky when we spotted the line of sleighs over the next mountain ridge. I took out my retractable spyglass and used its magnification to confirm their numbers. "Hrm, a small band, about twelve I think," I said. "Three sleighs and two outriders on horseback."

"Can you see Anna?" Kristoff didn't quite manage to get the fear out of his voice.

I looked between them. The front and rear sleighs had no sign of anything but provisions and weapons, but the middle one... I narrowed my eye and made out the familiar head of dark red hair and a white stripe coming out from under a winter shawl. "Middle sleigh."

"So how are we going to get through all of those guys?", Olaf asked me.

A good question. If I'd had my sonic disruptor, this would be easy. But I didn't. Kristoff wasn't armed. Schala had defensive magic, but she was already tired and I didn't want to push her too much. Olaf, while a plucky and brave little fellow, wouldn't be of much value in a fight.

A good thing that I'm always in favor of not fighting when a better solution comes along.

I spied ahead of them, seeing where the road entered the woods. "Will they keep following this road?", I asked.

"If they're heading straight north, yes. There's no other way out of the valley that doesn't involve going toward inland, and all of the border passes are watched."

"Very well. Set us ahead of them in that forest, I'll need time to set up to receive them properly."

We set down in the forest road. Kristoff led Sven off of the road into the woods to hide. Schala remained near me. She looked paler than before. Having been up all night, exerting her power multiple times after her ordeal in the Ocean Palace and coming through the Gate into my TARDIS, it was no surprise her constitution was only lasting so long. Nevertheless she was still active, calling up her power to hide our tracks in the snow and to keep anyone from sensing our presence through smell or hearing or sight. While she did so I set my traps in the snow banks, spacing them out so I would catch the sleighs on the outside of the convoy.

And then came the wait. The quiet, patient weight. We hid behind trees in sight of each other. Kristoff had a tree branch ready as his weapon of choice. I had my sonic screwdriver ready.

The crunching of snow from reindeer and horse hooves and the wooden bars of a sleigh won my attention. I looked out the side. As it drew closer I heard laughing and then a familiar female voice screaming,"Let me go! You're not going to get away with...!"

Anna was cut off by the familiar sound of a hand smacking a face. Kristoff's fists clenched around the thick tree branch he had. I motioned to him to calm down.

Going by the sounds of the sleighs, they were coming along my traps. I held out a mirror and risked a look with it. The front sleigh's mount was walking by the trap now. The rear one would be close. But would it be close enough?

Better to do it now. Better to have the back of the trap open than the front. I held out the sonic and turned it on. The purple light lit up. She whirred happily.

Small explosions ripped up from the road, underneath the front sleigh. The front of it shattered and it threw the riders from it as it flipped over. The reindeer pulling it cried out in terror and started galloping off. The second set was sadly less humane. The reindeer pulling the rear sleigh was still walking over it and the explosion tore into its hooves and lower legs with glass shrapnel and burning oil,. The creature screamed in agony and toppled over, wanting to run but unable to.

I moved around the tree and ran toward the startled raiders. With the sonic I stunned the driver of the middle sleigh. Kristoff ran beyond me and took the tree branch to the arm of another raider reaching for his sword. He let out a whistle as he did so, signalling Sven to run up behind the rear of the raider group. This allowed me to deliver an uncustomary punch to the raider i had been trying to stun. I turned and caught the lead outrider as he came back at us, sword raised. He and his horse screamed and fell into the snow.

By that point Anna noticed us. "Kristoff!" She brought up her hands, bound together at the wrist, and slammed them into the throat of the raider who was sitting beside her and had presumably struck her earlier. Indeed, I could see the dried blood along the right side of her mouth and a growing bruise on her cheek. Her winter coat was cut in a couple of places and she looked like she'd given her attackers a fight.

The raiders from the front sleigh were out of it. Those in the rear were not. They drew blades and clubs and moved to attack us.

They didn't account for Olaf and Schala.

Olaf struck first. I give the little sentient snowman credit, he made up for lack of stature with heart. He threw himself into the legs of one of the bandits and toppled him over into the snow.

While Schala showed that barely knowing any combat magics was not knowing any by Zealish standards.

Oh, she didn't unleash the kind of power I would have expected from Harry or Korra. But it was still quite impressive. Raw energy lashed out from her, forming invisible sledgehammers that threw the three men off their feet. Her blue hair flew wildly as she whipped around with great speed and conjured energy in front of the rear outrider, knocking him off his mount. He flew ahead and slammed into the snow. As he tried to stand, Olaf slammed into him as well and knocked him back down. The impact knocked Olaf off his legs and he had to pull them back toward himself.

That was good, because Schala, utterly exhausted as she was, actually dropped to a knee. She still had fight in her, but not enough to have taken on all the other foes if not for our ambush.

Sven was already in position as Kristoff finished cutting Anna free. She grabbed his face and kissed him deeply. "I'm sorry," she said. "I shouldn't have snuck out."

As much as he showed relief, Kristoff didn't let her off the hook. "No, you shouldn't have. You're lucky the Doctor came along."

"Ah, luck is fickle," I said. "Anna. You need to go home."

"I need to find a cure for Elsa," she insisted. "If we go back to the trolls, Grand Pabby said..."

"That letter wasn't from Grand Pabby," Kristoff said to her. "I asked."

Anna made a face. "Wait, what? But if it wasn't from Grand Pabby, then who...?"

"Whomever is responsible for the fleet now off of Arendelle," I answered. "And I presume them to be linked to your sister's condition."

"I knew it," Anna said. "I knew she just wasn't sick!"

"No. She's being attacked quietly," I said. "Something is drawing the energy out of her and that will kill her before long. We need to return to Arendelle immediately."

Kristoff helped Anna into his sleigh. I moved aside for Schala to step in.

And then another Gate opened.

This one opened above us, just above the trees. The moment I saw it I grabbed Schala by the arm. This was the reason she wasn't lifted clear from the sleigh and drawn in. "Doctor!", Anna cried as I reached out and grabbed the end of the sleigh before Schala and I were pulled away.

"Move it! Go now!", I shouted.

"Run for it, Sven!" Even as Kristoff gave the order his trusty reindeer compadre was already pulling ahead. The sleigh moved forward, quickly for a few moments, but suddenly it slowed. It was like Sven was trying to pull every sleigh behind us as well as his own.

"It's here for me," I heard Schala say. "It wants me! Let me go! It'll stop!"

I bit into my lip. I wasn't about to do that. No. I was going to find another bloody way. "Schala, take the screwdriver from my pocket!", I shouted to her. "It'll close it again!"

I heard her grunt as she pulled herself up along my arm and tried to use her hand to reach for my jacket. Her grip nearly failed and she had to grip with both hands again. "I can't get to it!", she shouted back.

The sleigh started to skid backward even as Sven's hooves dug up snow in a desperate attempt to pull us forward.

This wasn't going to work. We would all get pulled in. I wouldn't let that happen. "Get to Arendelle!", I shouted at the others. "Get to Arendelle as quickly as you can!"

Anna looked at me. "Wait, what are you..."

"Here we go!"

I let go of the sleigh. Which promptly took off like it was a rocket. A reindeer rocket, frankly.

"Doctor!," Anna cried out as she watched us in horror from the back of the sleigh.

My hand flailed out and I grabbed a thick tree branch and curled my arm around it to stabilize us. I heard it crackle in protest. It would give way soon. I marshaled my strength and pulled Schala to the branch as well. "On my shoulders!", I shouted.

"Let me go, please!", Schala begged.

"I'm not doing that, young lady! I won't! I won't send you to that!", I shouted back. "Now put your arms on my shoulders or we both go in!"

Her blue eyes stared at me for a moment before she acquiesced. She maneuvered herself and clasped onto my shoulders.

I heard a crack. I looked back to the branch. It was splitting off now. About a quarter and growing faster.

I scrambled for the sonic screwdriver with my freed hand while trying to breathe with Schala's arms wraped around my shoulders and neck. I managed to get a grip and pull it back out of my jacket pocket. I used the other hand, its arm wrapped around the branch - now halfway broken - to start tapping something on the screwdriver and to look at the display of readings from the Gate. I hoped I could find a way to break the link between it and Schala.

A crack made me check the branch. Three-quarters broken off. I had seconds left.

No, temporary solution it was.

I raised the sonic with my free arm and pulled it back to face the Gate. I pressed down the control and activated the sonic.

The movement changed the load on the branch. It snapped.

We flew toward the Gate.

Was I too late? Even worse, would I get pulled in as well? Pulled to what I suspected was a horrific fate, trapped with Schala and Lavos in the darkness of the inter-dimensional spaces outside of time? What kind of horror would the Time Devourer be if it had my Time Lord power added to it as well?

Had I just jeopardized an entire cosmos of space-time or more just out of rugged defiance against a fate I knew couldn't be avoided?

These thoughts went through my head as the Gate loomed in my sight, growing bigger and bigger....

....and then closing just as Schala let go of my shoulders.

So, yes, the good news was that we didn't get sucked into the Gate.

The bad news is that we fell about twenty feet.

I tried to roll with it, but as I hit the ground and rolled along, my head struck the abandoned raider sleigh.

And everything went dark.




I woke up because someone slammed my head with a meaty fist.

Looking up I saw that the raiders from the ambush had come to while I was out. Having my wrists bound behind my back was a very strong indicator, yes. And the ankles bound together too. Not fun.

"You cost us a lot of gold," one of them said, his accent thick and his breath thicker and far more foul. Dirty facial hair came close enough to prick at my skin. "And I'm going to take it out on you the entire trip back, ransom or no ransom."

"Ah." I looked around. Schala was already conscious. She was untouched but bound up as well, leaned against one of the sleighs. "So, I presume you were hired to abduct Princess Anna? By whom, may I ask?"

"Shut up!" A knife appeared and glinted in my eyes. "Or I'll take out that tongue."

"Quite the charmer," I answered. "It must make up for your inability to take a bath."

Confident as hell, the raider decided to use the knife on me.

So he wasn't expecting it when I twisted to the side, brought my legs up, and pushed my feet against the blade. The ropes snapped off from the force of my kick against the blade that cut them, giving me mobility. I twisted my legs away, rolled, and stood. A second raider came at me with his longer blade. I ducked it and, still bowing down, and made sure to put the blade between my back and my bound wrists. From there it was just a quick move of the arms and boom, wrists freed too. A kick to the knee brought the man down with a broken kneecap. Youch.

I looked to the knapsack on the sleigh that had held Anna and snatched it up, noticing the paper hanging out of one compartment. I had the sonic out as a raider stepped up to intercept me

Light erupted nearby. Schala's bonds were pushed away from her skin by energy constructs drawn from her personal magic aura. I ran over to her, grabbed her wrist, and shouted, "Now we run!"

The other raiders were reacting to our sudden flight and pulling weapons. I saw a crossbow come up and pushed us around a tree. I heard the distinct sound of the bolt burying itself deep into the wood. Yikes.

We ran into the forest heading back south. I was under no illusions we could catch up with Kristoff and Anna. I just wanted to be going in the right direction. We raced across roots and fallen branches and all the like while the raiders pursued us. Clouds came from our labored breathing in the winter snow. I felt my muscles burn as much as my face was. It was quite the workout.

The end of the forest came. Ahead of us was the road and the bridge that would lead us across a cold stream cutting through the valley. I ran toward it with Schala still behind me, puffing madly and feeling weaker as we went.

Just as we got to the bridge I heard the hoof-beats. The raiders were coming back our way, riding their reindeer and horses. Swords and blades glinted in the sunlight. A crossbow went up. At this range, without my sonic disruptor, we weren't getting away.

I looked to the stream. It was partly frozen over. In this climate, at that temperature, hypothermia would set in after maybe a minute or two. Even I couldn't stay in long.

But I we didn't go in, we'd get crossbow bolts to the hearts.

Tough call there. I went with freezing to death. "Jump in!", I shouted, getting up on the side of the bridge. Schala jumped up with me and looked apprehensive at the ice-filled water. "We have no choice!" I pulled her in with me.

We hit the water.... no, we actually didn't.

What we did hit was a pile of rocks that emerged from it. As soon as we were on top of them I felt cold rock press up on my legs and such and hold me up. I glanced over at Schala in time for the rocks to suddenly begin skidding out of the water and heading south.

I let out a laugh even as Schala looked around in stunned surprise. "What? What is this?!", she asked, worry in her voice.

"Trolls!", I cheered triumphantly. "Very nice trolls! Marvelous creatures of stone, very nice!"

I looked behind us. This confirmed there were more trolls and that the raiders were getting a right kicking from them. "That'll teach you lot to come mess around in this kingdom!", I shouted back.

"Why are they doing this?" Schala asked.

"Good question." I reached down to a stone that was ready to support me if I moved but which was otherwise moving along with the others. "Say, have a minute?"

We went on a short way and came to near a field. A broken down sleigh was in it. It had no reins and only one seat, but it looked serviceable at least. The trolls stopped us there and let us on, at which time they rolled out of their rock appearances to their normal squat half-humanoid look. "We don't have a lot of time!", one of them said.

"Oh my..." Schala reached down and touched one. "Living magical stone. With their own wills! This is... astounding!"

"Very much so," I said. I looked back to him. "We left those raiders behind, so we've got some time."

"That's not the problem," the troll said. "There's something evil in the world! Grand Pabby has felt it! He needs to see you right away!"

"Fine then. It's quite a walk, though, unless you've got a way to move this," I said, putting a hand on the sleigh.

"We'll handle that part," the troll assured me. He walked over to the others. The ones that had driven off the raiders were coming up on us and they joined in as well. I felt the sleigh lift beneath us.

And then we were off, rolling along under the trolls. "Right good show," I said. "Very clever!"

And so we rolled along.




We were closer to Arendelle when we left the path taken before, heading instead for the open area where the trolls lived. Schala was nursing the bruise on her wrists from the ropes. "Why do you risk yourself to keep me from that Gate?", Schala asked. "Do you know what's on the other end?"

"I have ideas," I answered. "Given the fiasco at the Ocean Palace, I can't imagine they're good." I looked to her. "Have any more thoughts on what you did when the Gate opened and dropped you in on me?"

"I remember a boy crying," she said. "I remember feeling very sorry for him and wanting to reach out to him, to help him. With everything that had happened it felt like the only good thing I could do. So I focused my power to send a piece of myself to him. I thought to appear briefly. But something happened and... then I was with you."

"Interesting." I mulled it over. "It's possible you were in a sort of temporal pocket, accessible to multiple points of time at once, and you happened to focus on one temporal point. Probably in proximity to a latent temporal rift of sorts." I didn't want to startle her by revealing I already knew what had happened. That she had projected not herself, but a child created from her essence, her quantum information if you would, that materialized around the time of the event she spoke of. A child that held her pendant and which just so happened to wind up adopted by Crono's friend Lucca.

"Does that have something to do with what is trying to pull me back through the Gate?", Schala asked.

"I'm not sure," I lied.

She looked at me for a moment. "I get the feeling that you're hiding things from me." When I didn't answer she nodded. "You talk about liking to travel. But there is more to you than that, isn't there?"

"Well, I do pitch in here and there, make friends, that sort of thing."

"That's it?" She looked at me. Her natural blonde was starting to show through where wear and water had worn away at the blue dye. Her blue eyes... okay, yes, the hair color and the eyes reminded me too much of Katherine. "There's nothing else to it? You just... help out here and there?"

"When it seems needed," I continued, feeling a little more uncomfortable. "I can't do too much, though. I went that route once. I became something terrible."

"Even the best motives can make us do horrible things." Her words were heavy with thought. "What of your family?"

"Don't remember," I said. I tapped my forehead. "All of my memories are sealed up in my head, beyond even the greatest psionists' help to extract without breaking my mind. For all intents and purposes, I was born a fully-grown man aboard a Sith Empire space station, where I was shortly thereafter shot and forced to regenerate." I looked to the fields of white around us. "I don't even know my name anymore."

"They call you the Doctor."

"A name I took from a Time Lord I... admire. It was a mistake." I looked at her. "Names have power. Especially that one. And it was too much for me. It changed me and led me into dark places."

"Did it?", she asked. "And what is the significance of the name of the Doctor?"

"It's a promise," I said.

"Oh?"

I closed my eyes and sighed. "Never cruel or cowardly. Never give in, never give up." I laid my head backward and looked up into the gray clouds above. "And I gave in. I was ready to become cruel. I can never let myself go that far again. I lost the right to that name."

"Then clearly you need someone to remind you of that," Schala said. "If you're already called that name by others, continuing to resist it seems foolish."

I bit my lip a little to refrain from speaking further on the matter.

"From what I have seen of you, Time Lord, you are a brave and kind man," Schala continued. "You help others without regard for the cost to yourself. I find it inspiring."

Okay, I think I blushed a little at that. Hearing the gentle mage princess describe me in those words was a little bump to the old self-esteem. "Thank you," I said. "You're no slouch in that department, I'd say."

She smiled sadly. "I wasn't brave when I needed to be. I've learned that no matter how compassionate you are, you can't protect those you care for without a little strength behind it."

"Or something close to that," I said. "The best general is one that doesn't fight unless absolutely necessary."

"An interesting saying."

I nodded. At that point, our conversation tailed off. I turned toward the knapsack I'd taken from the raiders. Within I found the letter that had lured Anna out for them. And I found a second letter as well. A second letter with instructions, not to the raiders but to the man who hired them.

I saw the name and scowled.

Of course, it had to be him.

Prince Hans.

And as I read those letters, the pieces started to come together.




The trolls were pensive when we arrived at their home. It was unsettling to see them like that. Schala and I stepped out of the sleigh and walked toward where they were gathered. A single rock rolled up amongst them and folded out to reveal their leader. Grand Pabby, as he was known, walked up to us. "Doctor. It is good to see you here," he said. "Our land, maybe our entire world, is in grave danger."

"You're talking about the force that is drawing away Elsa's power," I said. "Slowly killing her even as it uses her power to launch attacks with ice and snow creatures on every kingdom and duchy in the region."

"Yes." The old troll nodded. "I sensed its arrival. It is malicious and cruel. And it is growing stronger."

"Such forces usually do," I opined. "What more can you tell me?"

"I have fashioned a protective charm for Elsa. It will keep her safe until you deal with this monster." He offered up to me a pendant with a bright blue jewel set into it, flanked by smaller gems and forming a old Nordic rune that symbolized shielding. "I'm not sure I can do anything else to aid you. We are not a fighting people now. I'm not sure of anything we can do to repulse the army moving on Arendelle."

"It won't be necessary to," I answered. "Not once I expose the leader of this coalition for what he is." I frowned. I felt something trickle into me. A feeling of wrongness in space-time.

I realized what it was a moment before it formed.

The Gate returned, forming lower to the ground this time. The trolls cried out and moved away.

In that split second, I decided to test a theory. I lunged at Schala and put the pendant on her just as her feet started to come out from under her. She cried out in surprise and began to fall over.

The moment the pendant was on her, her movement stopped. The Gate seemed to flicker momentarily, its energies going wild and distorted, and it finally collapsed in on itself.

"Well, it worked," I gasped.

Grand Pabby walked up to where Schala was laying and took her hand. "Young woman." His voice was gentle and friendly. "I sense great turmoil in your heart. But know that the purity of the light within will see you through, even in the darkness that comes to claim you."

Schala looked at him in surprise and then at me. Her eyes were questioning. I looked away.

"You know of her fate, don't you Doctor?" Grand Pabby went up to me. "You've always known."

"It's not happening," I said. "I won't allow it."

"You cannot stop that fate. To try would be to turn back itno the darkness you left behind."

"What is he talking about?", Schala asked. "What does he mean?"

"I..." I took in a breath. "...I don't have time for this, we need to get to Arendelle and I need to get to my TARDIS. Even with her broken down there are things I..."

There was rolling sounds from further in the troll habitat. I looked up to see the trolls rolling along on the ground... pulling the TARDIS along with them.

"We found it in the woods during the night," Pabby explained. "I knew you would have need of it when I spoke to you."

"Yes." Ignoring Schala's intent look, I went past her and to the TARDIS door. Inside the lights were working. Parts of the controls were already re-assembled. "You took a beating, my poor girl. Glad to see you're getting better." I went down the stairs to the lower part of the room to get parts. I had only a limited amount of time to at least partially rebuild the tool I needed for what was to come.

I heard Schala walk down the stairs. I looked up to see her looking at my shelf of finished temporal beacons. "What are these?", she asked.

"Beacons," I answered. "Devices tied to the TARDIS, they let my friends call me if they need help and let me find them if they need me to."

"I see." She walked up to me. "Please, don't be afraid of the truth. I knew something was wrong with the Gates coming for me."

"I'm not letting it take you," I insisted. "With that pendant the bloody thing can't find you, it'll stay away."

"What will?"

I refused to look, focusing on fishing out parts from a stack. I felt a hand press on my shoulder. Schala turned me to face her. "What is on the other side of the Gates?", she asked. "What is seeking to take me?"

I swallowed. I wasn't sure about telling her. I didn't want her to know. I didn't want that to happen to her.

But I knew, deep down, it had to eventually.

"Lavos," I answered.

She stared at me.

"His essence. He was mucking about with dimensional field effects when Crono and his friends killed the thing," I explained. "Something about that must have sent what was left of him into the formless oblivion between dimensions."

"The Darkness Beyond Time," Schala gasped.

"Yes." I swallowed. "Which is where you were being taken when that Gate dropped you with me." Seeing the look of horror on her face, I trudged on. "You will be, I mean, would have been absorbed by Lavos. Trapped. His negative emotions and feelings would have twisted your own, bringing out feelings of despair that would have turned you both into a single entity set to devour all space and time."

"I..." The color had left her face. She stumbled backward and plopped onto the stairs, using them as a seat. "How do you know?"

"I've already dealt with some of the side effects of that," I said. "Balthasar begins some silly plan of nudging events at various space-time points to ensure the creation of a powerful artifact that can separate you. A young man eventually makes it and uses it upon you. At least, that's what I imagine happened, I haven't observed those events yet."

"So... I'm freed from this?"

"Eventually, I believe. I'm not sure how." I sighed. "And I'm not sure what it means for you. It may drive you nearly insane. It'll still cause you untold suffering. And that's if there is no slight shifting in events that causes the Chrono Cross to not get made after all. Then you'll be trapped for eternity within that thing."

She went silent and I regretted telling her anything at all. I forced myself back to work.




We walked back up to the main controls of the TARDIS. I checked her over. Her damage was still too severe to travel. We would need to return to Arendelle on foot or by sled.

Schala was quiet from where she stood. She'd been quiet since I told her about her fate on the other end of the Gates.

I was about to ask her what was wrong when I heard commotion from outside amongst the trolls. I stepped out of the TARDIS and saw Kristoff had ridden up on his sleigh. There were crossbow bolts in the back. "Doctor, we need your help!"

"The army landed," I said.

"They've taken Elsa and Anna," he said. "They're going to execute them tonight!"

"Because they think Elsa has attacked them with her powers. Well, official reason anyway." I figured the truth was that every leader who was wary of her was using this as an opening and an excuse. A deathly sick Elsa was one that couldn't freeze the executioner into an icicle, so they had their chance to kill her now and be done with it. "And on Christmas Eve? That's bad form. Anyway, who's leading the forces?"

"The Duke of Weselton." Kristoff scowled. "And Prince Hans."

I snickered. "Of course he is. Probably looking to take the crown." I tapped the knapsack I had with me. "Well, I think I know just how to deflate his game. At least that part of it. There's more going on here than you realize," I explained before hopping into the sleigh. "Come along, Schala. We'd better get moving!"
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-21 04:37pm

Evening had set in when Kristoff's sleigh returned to Arendelle. Armed men with halberds and swords and crossbows were scattered about the town in platoons, controlling the port and all the major roads. This would have ordinarily given us a bit of a challenge, since they could be expected to stop a sleigh carrying three people.

On the other hand, with Schala casting illusion magic to make it look like Kristoff was alone and pulling loads of cut ice blocks, the soldiers had little cause to turn away Arendelle's Icemaster. Who no longer looked like Kristoff, I'll add, given he was shot at earlier. I wasn't taking risks given the time limit we were under.

The mood in the city was dark. The handful of people out and about looked at the soldiers warily and rushed their way through streets. The flags of several kingdoms and duchies and principalities abounded. I recognized Weselton's coat of arms, those of several other neighboring states, Hans' native Southern Isles, and even the sun emblem of the Kingdom of Corona. "Quite the coalition," I murmured.

Kristoff approached the palace, where a couple of Weselton soldiers were standing watch on the gate. He held up his badge and they looked it over before nodding. Not even asking why ice was being delivered in the middle of winter. Very bad guarding, really, but good for us.

We went into the courtyard and found it containing several more units of soldiers. There were tense looks everywhere. There was a lot of fear here. Kristoff was on the receiving end of some suspicious glances. He had Sven trot up to the tradesman's entrance of the inner palace, where another guard - this one from Corona, nodded at him and returned to looking the other way.

"Stay close," Schala said to me. I did so. The illusion field around us shifted to show nothing when we got off the sleigh. Schala was running both illusions at once, conjuring the ice and our invisibility. The rest she had gotten from our trip back to Arendelle had recovered her constitution rather well, I noted. Which was important for my plan.

It was only once we were inside and had gone a ways in that Schala removed the glamor that had made ice appear visible. Anyone looking that way would be puzzled but would undoubtedly presume the ice had just been quickly unloaded.

Now that I knew what to look for, I had the sonic out and scanning. And guiding us away from any patrols on the inside. We came up upon a couple of guards who were watching the pantry. "The guards are imprisoned, right?"

"Yes," Kristoff answered.

"You'll need a uniform," I said. "Let's acquire them from these gentlemen."

With a pulse from the sonic I knocked both men out. Inside the pantry the kitchen staff froze in terror until they saw us, at which point they happily helped Kristoff hide the now-bound soldiers in the storage room. He got into the best-fitting chain-mail armor amongst the two and soon looked like a regular man-at-arms. Although I was pretty sure he was holding the halberd the wrong way. "Just don't walk into any inspections," I advised him. "Go to the dungeons and free the guards."

"What about you?", he asked.

I smiled and looked to Schala. "We have a show to put on."




The Ballroom had been converted to a courtroom of sorts. We entered from the side door and remained hidden from view under Schala's magic. This let me take in the sight of the room. Elsa lay slumped against Anna, both bound and placed in a cage with several men pointing crossbows at them. Various dignitaries were seated around them, including the palace staff and other Arendelle people. Doctor Symons was between the sisters and the main table. There the Duke of Weselton sat at the center, Hans to his right side and other foreign lords seated on both sides. Hans was in the cream white uniform I expected. His hands bore fine gloves of the finest make, and given the look on him, well, I expected he had plans for how this situation would end. And it would involve the throne he had sought before.

"We have all suffered from these scurrilous attacks," the Duke of Weselton proclaimed, his toupee flopping on his bald head. "Now we will have justice for them. Justice by deliving this sorcerer and her accomplice to the executioner! That's the only way to make our lands safe again!"

At one end of the table, a man with a Mediterranean complexion stood. He was wearing more humble refinery than the others, but I recognized him as a power at the table to be reckoned with; Prince Flynn of Corona. "My kingdom joined this effort because you said you had incontrovertible proof that Queen Elsa was responsible for the attacks. Yet look at her! She is weak and tired. You can't tell me she created the snowstorm that cost us half of the fleet when she is like that!"

"Her sorcery knows no bounds!", the Duke insisted. "We must act while she is not well, undoubtedly overextended from her attacks on us!" Other voices mumbled aloud at that, showing agreement. Some others showed displeasure.

"If you kill the Princess Anna too, you exterminate the Royal Family of this kingdom!"

"Arendelle needs a strong leader after spending so much time in the yoke of Queen Elsa's sorcery." Hans stood. "I have built a rapport with the people of this kingdom. I know of their needs. I consider myself the candidate to assume the throne."

"I know what you did the last time you were here, Prince Hans," Flynn snapped. "You tried to murder your way to the throne!"

Hans looked at him. "I was trying to save this land from her!" He pointed a finger at Elsa. "This entire family is cursed."

"And how fortunate you just happen to show up as these attacks started," Flynn continued. He looked back to the cage with the sisters in it. "This is becoming a farce."

There were some mumbles of agreement. Hans glowered at him. A hand went to his sword. "I'll remind the Prince Consort of Corona that unlike himself, I am of proper blood and I will not be insulted like that."

At that, Flynn's men-at-arms drew swords and hefted halberds. The troops of the Southern Isles and Weselton followed suit. Yes, it was rather clear those two were working together. At least provisionally. "The enemy of my enemy" and all.

"Your Highnesses!" One of the other delegates, possessing a German accent, stood. "Let us compromise. It is clear Queen Elsa is a threat and must be executed for her sorcery, but her sister is not taken by these powers. Let Anna reign as Queen. Honor and dignity will be satisfied."

"No!", Anna screamed. "You can't!"

"She'll just seek revenge, Your Lordship," Hans said. "Who knows what evil she'll turn to. I've already told you about the trolls that dwell in this land and their sorcery."

"A compromise, then?" Weselton gestured. "Marry her off to a suitable husband, who will rule as King and keep her from acting inappropriately."

Hans smirked. "An interesting idea. She was to be my wife anyway."

Flynn slammed his hand on the table. Before he could protest, Anna did so. "I'd rather marry a pig! At least they're honest!"

Given the smirk on his face, I was quite certain Anna's reaction was what Hans sought. He spread his arms and looked to the delegate. "As you can see, she will not listen to reason. And your Duke has already agreed to my becoming King."

"Corona has not," Flynn growled. At that, the tension in the room spiked again.

"I think we can all agree that whatever else, Queen Elsa must die, and she must die this night!," Weselton insisted.

At this point I had heard enough. I nodded to Schala, who released the veil over me and went off to her part of the plan.

It was time for the show to begin.

"Good evening, Your Graces and Highnesses!", I called out in a cheery voice, stepping out from behind a column. All eyes turned toward me as I ventured to the center of the room. "Prince Flynn, so good to see you again. And Your Grace..." I looked at Weselton and didn't keep the smile off my face. "I see that you replaced that fleet."

Weselton frowned and stabbed an accusing finger at me. "Sorcerer! That sorcerer is here too! Guards, seize him!"

His guards advanced forward, momentarily forgetting the presence of Flynn's men. I smirked and drew out my sonic screwdriver. "Ah ah. Conjurer, remember? Or sorcerer. Whichever you prefer. I don't want to turn you all into toads if I don't have to." With confidence kept on my features I strode closer, ignoring the men-at-arms who seemed uncertain of what to do. "Seriously, gentlemen? Talking about executing two people on Christmas Eve? That's simply horrible! Not at all in the spirit of the season!"

"Say your peace, sir," one of the delegates barked. His accent was vaguely Eastern European. Polish, perhaps?

"You've all been used for patsies," I announced. "This is a scheme. And I have proof." I held up the knapsack. It's crudeness undoubtedly made it clear that it was of northern origin.

That probably explained the sullen look that came over Hans.

"This man is a sorcerer in league with Queen Elsa!", Weselton snapped. "We can't trust a word he says!"

"So, Your Grace..." I smiled at him, remaining perfectly polite. I was even going to refrain from calling his demense "Weaseltown". "....what were you promised, hrm? A trade monopoly? Some lucrative agreement that would turn Arendelle into your economic vassal? That was the price you were to get for supporting this blatant grab for the throne, wasn't it?"

Weselton's face turned red. "My people have been attacked! Attacked by her!" He stabbed a finger at Elsa. "I will make any deal to stop this... this witch from continuing her evil ways!"

"Ah, attacked you say." I nodded and looked to the others. "So I take it that is why you are all here? Even Arendelle's closest allies and friends? Attacks from ice and snow monsters? You've all been deceived gentlemen. Elsa is not behind these attacks. She is their victim as well."

"You have no proof," Hans growled.

"I beg to differ. Prince Flynn?"

Flynn nodded to his men. One of them took the knapsack and carried it to him. He opened the letters within. "You'll find a letter sent to Anna the day before yesterday, luring her away with the promise of help," I said. "And in the same handwriting a conspirator arranging her abduction. Among other... items."

Flynn quickly looked over the letters. He turned and looked to Hans. "You have been busy amongst the Northerners, sir."

"I was sent there as Ambassador by my eldest brother," Hans answered coldly. "I have to protect my family's interests in any way I can."

"By working with bandits?", Flynn asked, handing the letters down to the Eastern European delegate, who looked over the text next.

"The Prince of Corona is one to talk," Weselton snapped. "You're nothing but a glorified thief yourself!"

Flynn smirked at that. "An honest one, though."

I looked around the room. The crossbowmen were still ready to kill Elsa and Anna at the first hint of real trouble, and I suspected that included a fight between the allies in the room. I had to be careful. I needed more time.

So it was time to drop the bomb and see how right I was.

"Well, let's be honest," I said loudly, making sure to get their attention. "It's not like Hans is the real mastermind here."

Eyes turned toward me. Even Hans'.

"You're not alone in this," I said. "After all, you are many things, Prince Hans, but a wielder of metaphysical power isn't one of them. You couldn't have drained Elsa of her power and made her so sick, nor could you have simply gained those powers yourself. That required another conspirator. One who, whether you realize it or not, is pulling the strings. As is his custom." I followed Hans' eyes and confirmed my suspicions. But I wasn't done yet. "Oh, and just to verify something... think fast!"

Being a Time Lord, i had barely finished the word "think" when the object I had pulled out of my pocket was already racing toward Hans' forehead. It was, in fact, a ballpoint pen, but from his point of view it could have easily been a dart or a dagger. His hands went up to intercept it.

A blast of freezing cold erupted and blew the now-frozen pen away.

All eyes turned on Hans with horror and surprise.

All except one pair of eyes, that is. But I'm getting to that.

I was smiling. "Your friend outdid himself. I was wondering what he was doing with Elsa's power. He wasn't just conjuring snow monsters to terrorize the neighbors. He was giving that power to you."

There was horror on Hans' face now. Horror at being revealed. And... perhaps horror that this was being done to him in the first place. "It wasn't part of the deal, was it?", I asked. "You were simply to take the throne. You didn't want this power. After all, you can't control it very well, can you? That's why you're the only one who always seems to wear gloves even indoors. And even with them, when you put your mind to it..."

The other nobles all looked at each other and then to Hans, confirming this fact for themselves.

"You made a deal with a very nasty being. A very powerful one." I shook my head. "That never goes well for people like you. Isn't that right, Doctor Symons?"

All heads turned toward Symons, who remained still. He was focusing on me. "You believe you know," he rasped.

"Oh, I knew very early," I said. "Energy transference like that is made more efficient with proximity. But if you'd wanted Elsa dead, she wouldn't have lasted this long. I knew you had other plans. That's the only reason I didn't take Elsa with me when we left to look for Anna."

"You know nothing," Symons said.

Even as he did... yes, I saw it now. Adopting a contemporary look had changed his appearance enough that at first glance it wasn't as noticeable. But I was right. I knew who he was.

"You arrived here as what? A specter of a specter? A fragment, barely cognizant? But then Elsa's power drew you. It reminded you of what you were, it reminded you of the forms you could take, and over time you grew powerful enough to move again. That's when the trolls started to sense you." I kept a steady look on him. Every set of eyes in the room, even those of the crossbowmen, were starting to become fixed on the two of us.

"So you think you know who I am, little man? Puny little Time Lord? You think you can comprehend the greatness of what I am?"

"Yes," I said. I pointed a finger at him. "I know who you are. I know what you really are, Doctor Symons." I stared into those malevolent eyes, all doubts erased. Indeed, every doubt erased. I felt my smile turn into a bit of a smirk. "Or should I say Walter Simeon? Padmasambhava? No, those were just your puppets, let's use your real name. You are Yog-Sothoth, the Great Old One, the Great Intelligence."

And at that, Symons smiled wickedly. "You know much, false Time Lord. But you still know nothing."

"This world will not be yours!", I shouted.

"You cannot stop me. It is too late." He looked toward Elsa and smiled. "I already have..."

And the smile disappeared.

Mine didn't.

"You." He glared hatred at me. "Trickery! Just like him, trickery!"

In the span of an instant, the cage was empty.

Schala was standing beside it, the ropes that had bound Anna and Elsa at her feet, and the two sisters still missing. From the concentration on her face, I was certain she was shielding Elsa again. The pendant was still on her neck, so it was from her own power.

"Sorcery!", the Duke of Weselton screeched.

"Quite a lot of that going around," I said. "On both sides. The only difference, Your Grace, is that this one isn't going to settle for being left alone. So, what was the plan? Drain Elsa dry and use that power to manifest a form? Take her's? No." I shook my head. "Not her's."

I looked toward Hans. Who had manifested ice power through his gloves. Elsa had never done that.

Symons did so as well. And then...

He suddenly wasn't there. Not physically. But I could feel his essence.

"Schala, shield Hans! Now!", I shouted.

Her hands moved and with them her power. Hans recoiled in fear, not realizing we weren't the things he needed to be afraid of.

Then his face twisted with terror. He screamed wordlessly. "I couldn't stop it!", I heard Schala shout.

And then Hans straightened. His face twisted into an evil smile and his voice was deeper, raspier, than before. "There." He looked at his gloved hands as if they were the strangest thing in the world. "Whole again. And with power, so much power..."

"What are you?", Weselton gasped, slinking away.

The Great intelligence answered by raising his hand at Weselton. Ice focused around the old man until he was a human popsicle.

"Now." The Great Intelligence looked toward me with Hans' eyes. "It is time for you all to die."




Okay, things weren't going according to plan. I admit that I allowed my concern for Elsa to override my judgement. I had presumed the Great Intelligence would prefer the actual source of that power, not a being infused with a part of it, and that he wouldn't bother with Hans.

Clearly I was wrong. Either about his motives or about his ability to transfer after everything was done. I'm not perfect, after all.

The men-at-arms of Weselton charged forth to fight for their Duke. With a sweep of his hand the Intelligence summoned forth more of those killer snowmen and ice wolves, who set on them. The other delegates retreated to their bodyguards, who were joined by the men from the Southern Isles who no longer had a leader.

"Well, what now, Time Lord?", he asked me. "What will you do now? What meager ploy will you attempt to defeat me?"

"You might be surprised at what I can do," I said.

"Ha! You are nothing. You are a fraud, a shadow, a little creature running from world to world, searching for something he cannot find," the Great Intelligence declared. "Run along, little Time Lord. Run and keep running."

"No," I said. I pulled out the device I had built in the TARDIS. My new sonic disruptor, more streamlined than the last, pointed at him. "I don't run from you. Never from the likes of you."

"Really? All you have done is run. Run from the past you can't find. Run from the identity you lost control of. Run from yourself." The Intelligence laughed. "Yes, I have seen these things in you. I know what you truly are."

"Do you?" I felt an edge come to my voice. "You've seen what's inside me, yes?"

"I have. A coward, unable to fight for his own principles, never sticking to things, always running to escape the emptiness inside." The Great Intelligence smiled wickedly at my frown. "Running around and providing little comforts here and there. You couldn't handle trying to become what you claimed to be."

"Maybe not," I agreed. I kept the disruptor pointed at him. "Maybe I have run from what I am and what I became. Maybe I've been a fool. But that doesn't change the truth. The truth of what I am."

"And what are you, little Time Lord?", the Great Intelligence asked.

I looked the monster in the eyes. For he was a monster, in another monster's stolen body, and for me there was only one thing to do with monsters. "I'm a man who fights monsters," I said.

He answered me with a blast of ice energy. I absorbed it with the sonic disruptor. Nevertheless I felt the ice cold flow around it and strike me. The disruptor wouldn't protect me from the full fury of his power.

A bolt of energy struck at him and forced the Intelligence back several steps. Schala's hands glowed with energy and another bolt came from them, meeting a powerful ice blast in mid-air. The two blasts went through each other and the combatants were struck by one another. The Intelligence fell backward and hit the floor. Schala's defenses protected her from the worst of the cold. Instead of being frozen like the Duke of Weselton, she fell back from the impact and was shivering by the time she hit the ground. For the moment, she was out of the fight.

Some of the men-at-arms surged forward to attack, just to be met by more snowmen. I triggered a disruption blast to break them apart, then another. But the Intelligence was crafting them faster than I could destroy them. They plowed through the men-at-arms and went for the assembled delegates, who were for the most part unarmed. Not that swords would have done them much good anyway.

Before the first snowman could start ripping into the foreign nobles, there was a burst of cold that congealed before them. It grew quickly into the form of Elsa's favored snow golem. It let out a roar and broke several of the snowmen in a single swipe.

I turned to see Elsa was leaning against her sister for support, standing beside a column at the side of the room and formerly out of sight. Just where Schala had directed them. Elsa was still haggard and pale. But I felt the energy thrum from her regardless. She was finding more energy to fight with, even if just for a little bit.

I almost died. One of the ice wolves was lunging at me from behind. Anna shouted "Doctor look out!" and even as I heard the second word beginning I was ducking and twisting. The wolf sailed over my head and plowed into one of the snowmen coming at me. The snow golem got them both.

"There you are." The Intelligence smirked and looked toward Elsa and Anna. He began to walk over, ignoring the fighting. For good reason, since the numbers he was generating just by moving were going to overwhelm us.

The main door suddenly flew open. Sven barged in at full speed with Kristoff behind him and the guards of Arendelle at their back. They quickly took in the situation and fearlessly charged into the mass of snowmen threatening their erstwhile enemies. Kristoff, having swapped the halberd for a mace, used it to smash up a snowman menacing Prince Flynn. "Thank you," Flynn said. He held up a sword he'd snatched from a ceremonial armor by one of the columns and used it to break up the grasping arms of the fallen snowman.

I kept my eyes on Anna and Elsa. "Stay away!" Anna shouted at the Intelligence as he loomed closer.

He looked to her with contempt and threw an ice bolt that would have frozen and shattered her if Elsa hadn't dispersed it. I rushed toward them to help.

The Intelligence's hand came up. I ducked under the blast he was sending my way. Just proximity was enough to cause ice to form over my left shoulder and neck, holding my arm and head in place as the cold burnt its way into my flesh and made me numb. I let out a cry and hit the ground. I brought up my sonic to begin shattering the ice.

As I did so, the Intelligence focused on Elsa again. His cold didn't do anything to harm her, but her's couldn't harm him either. As he came close he reached out and grabbed Anna, yanking her away. Ice formed where he gripped her wrist, freeing her right arm. Anna kicked desperately at his knee. Whatever pain it caused was something he seemed to ignore. He contemptuously threw her to the side.

Elsa was too sick and weak to avoid more than the second attempt to grab her. Once he had on his hands around her shoulders the Intelligence pressed her against the column. I felt the energy thrumming between them. The link he had forged before was still active and he was beginning to draw more of Elsa's power away. No, not just that. He was starting to overwhelm her mind.

That was it. The Intelligence wasn't going to just take Hans' body, he wanted both.

I looked around. Everyone else was fighting for their lives. Schala was still recovering, being shielded by Kristoff and Flynn. Anna was barely conscious where she lay.



I forced myself to my feet and charged. Hitting the Intelligence was like hitting a stone wall. Hans was, if not as tall as I was, still a strong and well-built man. But no matter how the Intelligence was strengthening him, he still had the same mass, and standard physics applied (as rare as that can be in this line of work, I admit). The impact I made against him released Elsa from his grip. She crumbled as we hit the wall. I scrambled away and lifted my sonic disruptor, pointing it toward him in time to deflect an ice bolt. "You wanted to know who I am?!", I shouted. "I am the one who stands against you! I am the one who stops the monsters! No matter where I find you, no matter what world or cosmos or reality, I will always stop the monsters!"

He blasted at me again. The cold seeped over my hand and arms, creating frost on my sleeve. I ignored the stinging, numbing pain and counter-attacked with a kinetic blast that threw the Great Intelligence to the floor in the middle of the Hall. I stepped up toward him. As I did, I realized just how much those words meant to me. For the first time in a long time I was facing what I had become, I was understanding it in a way I never had before. Understanding and accepting.

I had long accepted I would never go back to whomever was locked away in my mind. Now I accepted that, no matter how things had gone, I was someone new. I had an identity, one that I had run from out of fear and pain, but which I could never truly cast away.

I had taken the Name and made it mine.

And the Name had taken me and made me its.

Its spirit was mine now. There was no getting around that. I had made the choice and these were the consequences. And I had to accept that.

I had to accept who I was.

The Intelligence was starting to get up. I activated the defensive setting on the disruptor and modified it using the readings it had been taking on his power. A solid blast of sheer frozen power lashed out at me and struck the shield. It took the energy and re-directed it back at him, every bit of it. The Intelligence froze in place for the moment. "That is who I am," I said. "That is what I am. And I am not going to run from it any longer."

And my voice went calm when I spoke again. What I was saying didn't need a bold pronouncement. It wasn't to be said as melodramatic proclamation or posturing. It was a simple statement of truth, with a clarity as pure as crystal, sublime as the facets of a single snowflake.

"I am the Doctor."

The Intelligence reacted to that name with a roar and another blast of energy. My deflector did its job once more. Even despite it I thought my hands would freeze from the bleedthrough of his power. What I got didn't compare to what he took, as the re-directed blast froze Hans' body completely in place.

"Schala, now."

The mage princess had gotten back up at this point. She nodded at me and moved her hands in a single motion, summoning great potentials of energy. She directed this technique at the Great Intelligence. It was powerful, explicitly made to strip beings like the Intelligence from their hosts and bind them.

Ordinarily even someone as powerful as Schala would have found the task of imprisoning an entity like this impossible. But this was not ordinary. Frozen in a body that was resisting him, the Intelligence was damaged and overstretched in trying to resist everything. Hans' frozen body twisted slightly as Schala drew the Intelligence out. I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out something I'd cobbled together after some interesting exchanges of idea with one Doctor Spengler over a plate of delicious Twinkies. A nice little prison pocket dimension for a bodiless entity like the Great Intelligence, reinforced by Schala's power. She pulled it out of my hand and held it up. Schala murmured something in Zealish and directed the energy into the bottle-like container. The top's red light came on, showing it had sealed itself.

It was then that I noticed that Schala had pulled off the troll pendant. She tossed it to Anna. "Put that on your sister," she instructed her.

"What are you doing?", I asked. "Schala, without that..."

I felt it then. The same feeling as before.

"I lied," Schala said. "I'm sorry. This spell cannot entirely bind him. He will escape in a few minutes at most."

"Then..." I swallowed. I realized what she was doing. "Please, there has to be another way!"

Above me space-time tore open. A howling gate, blue and black in color, tore open yet again, its otherworldly shriek of energy echoing in my ears. Air began to pick up around us. Schala's hair whipped about, now turning almost completely blond in color. "There is no other way," she said calmly. Her voice shook a little from the fear of what she was about to do. "It must be done."

"No," I said. "I can find another way, another receptacle, there's no need to sacrifice yourself!"

"It's the only way. And you know it." Her smile was so gentle as the energy of the Gate picked her up, pulling it towards its dark maw. "Thank you, Doctor."

"Schala! Schala, no!" I dashed forward, readying myself to jump and grab her. But as I prepared to jump off my feet Kristoff grabbed me by the right arm. "Let me go!", I roared. Anna grabbed the other arm. Flynn made a diving tackle that cut my legs out from under me.

All I could do was watch as Schala was dragged into the Gate, the Great Intelligence still a prisoner in her hand.

"It'll be all right!", she yelled.

And then she disappeared into the Gate, which snapped shut.

I continued to lay upon the floor for the moment. Tears came to my eyes as I looked up at where the Gate had closed. I could have saved her. I knew I could have saved her.

Especially on a night like tonight. On Christmas Eve. On days with such power.

I found Anna was hugging me. She sobbed softly. "I'm sorry," she said to me. "She said it had to be this way. I couldn't talk her out of it."

"I know," I said in reply, trying to blink tears out of my eyes. "I know."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-22 07:53pm

The pendant had apparently been made to not simply shield Elsa but to give her a bit of quick energy. With it she unfroze both Hans, who was delivered directly to the dungeons, and the Duke of Weselton, whom Prince Flynn - or Eugene as Elsa called him, a knowing smile on her face - escorted forcefully back to the invasion ships. The assembled nobility had found themselves rescued from certain death by the same "sorceress" they had come to execute.

Fitting.

Elsa retired to her bed that Christmas Eve, exhausted by her illness and in need of several days of bed rest to fully recover. In her name Anna sent the soldiers to recover the TARDIS from the trolls. I was given a room to sleep in, although sleep proved elusive. I kept imagining what had happened, all of the things I might have done to save Schala from the horrible ordeal that faced her on the other end of that Gate.

But circumstance had forbidden that. I had failed.

That was part of being the Doctor too.

It felt soothing to accept that name again. To no longer feel the need to wince or blanch whenever someone used it to talk to me. After all of the darkness I had walked through, and then the pain, I felt like I had emerged into the light of day. Uncertainty and fear over my identity melted away under that simple, single truth.

I was the Doctor. By my own choice. A foolish choice, perhaps, but still by my choice.

Somehow I finally settled into sleep.




The form appeared in front of me. I recognized the old man. "This again?", I asked.

The First Doctor looked me over. "Well, it looks like you're starting to understand."

"Hrm, yes," the Second said. "But fast enough to realize what's at stake?"

You can guess that they spoke in order from that point on.

"He still needs work."

"But he's getting better. Oh. Want one?"

I accepted the proferred jellybaby.

The Fifth Doctor put a hand on my shoulder. "It was her decision, don't let it torment you."

"Or if you must, do something about it!", the Sixth insisted.

"She was naive, but not foolish. A girl like that can think ahead if given the chance."

"It won't get easier either way."

"It never does."

I was up to the Ninth Doctor. "So, you understand now? Ready to accept what's happened?"

"Yes," I said. "I... well, for the lack of a better terminology, I have become you."

"Yes, very much." Ten appeared on my shoulder. "And filling these shoes isn't easy work, you'd best stay on your toes!"

"You're just a dream, so I know it's just my own mind deciding what I should say." As I said those words I held back a laugh.

"Oooh, getting used to the idea, eh?" Ten winked. "Think you're already me, don't you?"

"I didn't..."

"No, no, all in good fun." Ten smiled and walked off into the distance.

"That's just the start." I was prompted to turn and face Eleven. "You know there's more to this. You have to remember."

"I've tried," I said. "I fainted the last time."

"Keep trying," Eleven insisted. "This is important. Really, really important. You were sent out here for a reason, Doctor! And you need to know what that reason was in order to avoid what's coming!"

"What do you mean?", I asked. "What do you mean by that? What's coming?"

"You're supposed to be me now, I'm sure you'll figure it out." Eleven smiled boyishly at me. "Now, how about those memories? Ready to give it another try?"

I admit I wasn't. Not entirely. But something about the way he said it made me nod and focus. Focusing in a dream, that's always fun. I figured I'd end up in a dream meeting Santa Claus or....

I was in a chair. I felt heavier. And I was in pain.

"What do you want?!" a panicked voice screamed. I... I thought it sounded familiar. American. What was...?

"This one will serve our purpose. It must be done. For..."

I could see figures again.

"Stop, please stop..." The American voice echoed in my head again.

A female voice spoke. I could barely make out the words. "...not going... last."

"It has.... one. Without... all fall apart.... destroyed!"

"But!"

One of the faces turned toward them and said something I couldn't make out through the pain. I saw the side of the face. I.. I knew that face. I thought I knew. But the memory slipped through my fingers, like the surface of a bubble sliding between them.

And then I woke up.





A wail brought my attention to the dining hall. Many of the delegates were present and signing new treaties with Arendelle, re-affirming alliances and defense pacts. The Duke of Weselton was busy looking over the document Kai had placed before him. Elsa watched calmly, but with a good deal of mirth in her expression. She was clad in royal dress but nothing ostentatious. Ladies-in-waiting remained to take her back to her bedchambers as soon as the talks were over.

"This... this is...", the Duke spat.

"Your Grace." Elsa's voice was quiet and collected, if still a little weak. "You've been seeking resumed trade with my kingdom since my coronation. Isn't this what you want."

"But the prices, the duties and customs fees and...!" Weselton buried his face in his hands. "You're beggaring us!"

"No, I'm not," Elsa said. "I am simply requiring you to pay what everyone else must."

"But my people..."

"...will still make enough that our trade is worth it," Elsa finished for him, clearly enjoying herself. "You just won't profit exclusively this time." Elsa put her hands together. "His Highness the Prince of Corona has already indicated that Corona may increase purchases from Arendelle if Weselton doesn't resume trade."

Weselton glared at the smirking Prince Flynn. He looked back to Elsa. "Please, Your Majesty, can't I get any consideration?"

"You already did, Your Grace. Last night."

Elsa's words didn't have to be sharp. They didn't have to be imposing. By simple statement of fact she made the position clear; she had saved his life after he had done everything to take her's. This would be his cost; regaining the trade ties they both needed, but in no way profiting handsomely from it as he had long hoped. And surrounded here by the delegates of his peers and superiors in courts across the land, Weselton refusing her would further reduce his land's prestige in their eyes. "Fine," he sighed, after which he scribbled his name on the trade treaty and put his ducal stamp upon it.

"It will be nice to see our markets filled with your produce again," Elsa said diplomatically. "Now, Your Grace, Your Highnesses and Your Lordships, I am still weary and I wish to spend the rest of this Christmas with my sister and her fiancee. Good day to you."

They filed out, Flynn flashing a grin Elsa's way as he walked out, leaving me in the room with Elsa and her ladies-in-waiting. The two young ladies helped her stand up and move into a wheelchair. She looked at me and smiled. "I think restoring peace to my kingdom and our neighbors made for a great Christmas morning, considering the circumstances."

"I agree."

Elsa extended a hand as I knelt down. I gave it a gentlemanly kiss, obeying social norms and all, and she laughed lightly. "I would make you a peer of my kingdom if I thought you would accept it. You'll at least accept a royal order?"

"I would be happy to," I said in reply. "Although I hope to find another just as deserving."

Elsa's smile turned sad. "She was a kind and gentle soul. Arendelle won't forget her sacrifice, Doctor, I promise you that. I won't forget it."

"I know." I stood up and allowed her attendants to wheel her out. I followed to continue the conversation. "So, what shall be done about Hans?"

"I returned him to his brothers last time. They decided to punish him by sending him to the North. It wasn't enough." Elsa frowned. "He's staying in my dungeon while I negotiate the matter with the Southern Isles."

"I imagine you won't expect much trouble."

"None at all. Everyone has seen him for what he is."

I nodded. "I imagine he won't be in shape for a trial for a while, though. The Great Intelligence can have an effect upon the mind. I'll have to go check on him later. What I'm more interested in was calling Kristoff Anna's fiancee."

"Her Christmas gift," Elsa said. "I signed the authorization for her to marry anyone of her choice." I saw a flicker appear in Elsa's eyes, amusement and happiness. "I want my little sister happy, Doctor."

"Indeed."

"And what about you? What do you want for Christmas?"

I contemplated the question for a moment. "I think," I answered, finally deciding on what to say, "that I have mostly gotten everything I might want. But there is one thing I have yet to do."

Elsa nodded, understanding completely. "Then good luck," she said.

"Thank you, Elsa. You'll be feeling better in no time, I'm sure."

"All thanks to you," she said. "Will you be here for the Christmas feast?"

I initially considered refusing. But that would have been unkind. And the TARDIS would need another day or two of repairs before I could leave. So I nodded. "I accept."




The Christmas feast was a true wonder. The doors of the palace were opened and food was provided for all of the people of Arendelle. There were some unkind looks at the former occupying soldiers, but Queen Elsa was punishing them with kindness, insisting on their partaking as well. Hams and geese and duck, all sorts of meat, were provided to the revelers, as were all sorts of other dishes of Scandinavian make or otherwise. Carolers sang in the courtyard, their music becoming especially joyous when Anna's marriage to Kristoff was announced.

As was my custom, I tried to remain out of the festivities. But being a guest, I responded when told Elsa wanted to see me, and the next thing I knew I was standing before her and kneeling respectfully. "The Doctor has proven to be a friend to Arendelle time and time again," Elsa said to the assembled. "And so, from this day forth, I name him the Defender of the Kingdom of Arendelle, with all of the rights and privileges of a Knight of the Kingdom."

I blushed.

When my Christmas night was over I stepped into the TARDIS. She was still repairing. It would take time to fully do so. But she had regained enough function for what came next.

I materialized the TARDIS elsewhere and stepped out. The trolls were rolling up and standing around me. I looked at Grand Pabby and nodded. "I need your help. I think I've found how the Great Intelligence came here."

He nodded. "It is near. I will show you."

I moved the TARDIS again. It was a cave this time, unoccupied for the moment. Despite the darkness outside there was light at one wall. "Here," Grand Pabby said. He and some of his trolls rolled up beside me.

I looked at what was before me and swallowed. I had expected this. It was confirmation of a pattern I had seen developing.

The Great Intelligence had gotten here by coming through a Crack.

The sinister break in the dimensions oozed white light. I scanned and still saw no sign of the "erase you from existence" kind of temporal energy. But it was still dangerous. It was oozing energy out into this world.

Yet another Crack putting out energy instead of pulling it in. There was a pattern here that I was still deciphering.

"We must close this," I said. "I will need help."

Nothing of note happened during that part of the night. After I returned the trolls home, Grand Pabby stood at the entrance and looked up at me. "The young mage princess made a terrible sacrifice, but it was necessary."

"It should never be necessary," I answered. "I need to rescue her."

"I wish you the best for that goal." The troll nodded sagely. "Although you may find that there is nothing you need do to solve it."

I exchanged handshakes with the short troll and returned to the TARDIS.




I was in the time vortex and going through repairs. In my mind I formulated strategies, ways to break into the Darkness Beyond Time and pull Schala from the Devourer. Or at least make sure she was rescued. I was not going to let my Christmas end like this.

For a while I messed with the TARDIS controls, trying to find a way to shift it into the Darkness Beyond Time, to find Schala, to do anything. But no luck.

I let out a growl of frustration and stepped back. I needed to think. Think of how to work this, things I could do to...

There was a beep from my communication console.

I went over to it. One of my beacons had activated its homing system. I furrowed my brow. There was no call. Why wouldn't any of my friends and associates have called if they needed me? Unless there was trouble. Who was it, then? I checked the identifier.

It wasn't listed.

That really made me curious. All of my beacons had identification codes. I knew each one I'd handed out. This was one that I hadn't handed out. I walked downstairs to check my beacons.

And I remembered. That made me smile. "Oh, clever girl," I said, after which I rushed back up to the main floor and reached for the controls. "Oh you clever girl!" I locked the TARDIS onto the beacon and hit the lever. I got to the door just as the VWORPing ceased.

I stepped out into the sun and warmth of a tropical beach. The colorful flora was familiar. I had been here twice before.

A woman in white was standing further down the beach, looking out at the gentle surf. I started to walk up and that prompted her to turn.

"Well," I said, "it looks like i wasn't needed."

"You weren't," Schala replied, smiling at me. She extended a hand. One of my temporal beacons was in it. "You can have this back if you want."

"Keep it," I said. "In case."

"Okay." She returned it to the belt of her white robe. "Was everything okay after I left?"

"Oh, yes. Queen Elsa is fine, Anna is getting married to Kristoff, and the invaders turned sides and re-aligned themselves with Arendelle. Prince Hans is in a dungeon, where he rightfully belongs." I shook my head. "Of course, he's almost brain dead at this point. The Great Intelligence took its toll on his mind. He's going to be catatonic or mad for the rest of his life."

"He was an evil man, but some things are too horrible even for such men," Schala answered.

"What about the Great Intelligence?", I asked. "Did he get merged with you and the Devourer?"

"No," she answered. "I expelled him into the void before Lavos took me."

"Good. I shuddered to think of the damage he might have caused you." I swallowed and lowered my eyes. "I'm sorry, Schala, for not finding a way to save you from that."

In reply she smiled. "It's okay."

"Is it?", I asked. "Are you..."

"I am whole," she answered. "I know you're too smart to believe a lie about what happened. I suffered, Doctor. I was drowned in hatred and despair. Lavos nearly destroyed me." The smile on her face briefly wavered, but in a moment it was back to full strength. "But throughout that ordeal, I kept my heart clear. I remembered you and the people of Arendelle and knew that there were people worth life. I wouldn't let the despair claim me. I knew that somewhere out there, you would be doing everything to come to my aid. "

"I certainly planned on coming for you," I said. "It looks like it was unnecessary."

"Yes." Schala looked to the northeast. "He's quite a nice boy."

"Serge?"

She nodded. "He's a very quiet one. Just like Crono. They get along very well. And my... daughter, I suppose, is happy with Lucca alive and well."

"I imagine so," I said. "I'm glad I could make their lives happier."

"Yes." She smiled slightly and nodded. "And meeting the others again, seeing Crono survived all of that... I see it as a gift I could never have hoped to have. All that's left for me is to find Janus."

"Ah, yes." I nodded. "A moment." I rushed into the TARDIS, down to my storage area under the controls, and fished through a box. "Ah ha! There you are!" After finding what I was looking for, I rushed back up and met Schala at the TARDIS door. "Here." I handed her the device. "Genetic scanner. It'll tell you if someone is your blood relative within a few generations. I doubt you'll trigger anything from the people native to this time, but Janus should be picked up by it."

"I have thousands of years of time to search," Schala pointed out, although her smile was hopeful.

"There is a magician who sometimes comes to Termina who may provide a good first step," I said. "He goes by Guile or Magil or something of that sort. Silver hair, yellow mask, can't miss the fellow."

"How could you know..." Schala stopped herself and laughed. "It's just so odd to be around a being like you. So far beyond even my own."

"Not that far beyond," I corrected. "When it comes down to it, Gallifrey has far too often nearly walked the road Zeal did for my comfort."

"I am sure that with people like you, they will never go astray as we did."

"Hopefully not." I sighed. "Oh, Queen Elsa wants to make you a Knight of Arendelle. Would you like to come and visit?"

"Tell her I'm honored, but that I have a life here to build," Schala answered. "Once I find my brother we will build something new. And it will be great."

"Ah." I nodded. I tried to keep a bit of disappointment off my face. "Well, I was going to offer you a spot on the TARDIS, actually. A chance to see the six dimensions, get out a bit..."

"I know." Schala took my hand. "And I appreciate the offer. But that life isn't for me. I have something here."

"I understand." I nodded. "If you ever need me..."

"I will call," Schala assured me. "And the same for you." Her look turned wistful. "If anything, Doctor, I enjoyed getting to wield my magic in that cause. To protect Queen Elsa and her people. If you ever need my help I will be there."

I gave a nod of acceptance of the term.

Schala looked back toward the distant village. "Well, I must be going. I need to see about a trip to Termina."

"Good luck finding your brother, Schala."

"And good luck, Doctor, in your own journey," Schala answered.

And without expectation, I found her lips pressed to my cheek, a small kiss of gratitude and thanks. I fought to control a blush and felt my smile grow warmer. She nodded one last time at me and began to walk toward the path leading off of Opassa Beach.

I remained there for a moment before returning to the TARDIS. I suppose I was a little disappointed. I had looked forward to showing Schala around the wonders of Creation. Introducing her to friends and allies. That sort of thing. But it was not to be.

It seemed fitting, really. The Doctor never keeps a Companion he picks up for Christmas. At least, not immediately. I actually chuckled at that. Who knew. Maybe she would end up traveling with me after all, one of these days. Just not for now.

Nevertheless, I felt a bit of a spirit come over me. Not just the spirit of the Doctor but the spirit of the season. After all, Christmas can last as long as it needs to. And while I enjoyed the feast at Arendelle, I still had yet to partake of one of the most fun activities of Christmas.

First order of business was that I had to get a red suit.




Squeals of girlish delight echoed in my ears as I stepped into the beautiful house, presents stacked up to my chin. "Ho ho ho!", I shouted gleefully, trying to sound the part as well as look it... well, look it save for the lack of anything to hint at a large belly. "Have you two been good girls this year?!"

"Yes!," Christana and Karianas cried out in unison.

"Well, a good thing that Santa had all of these extra presents, eh?!"

Behind me Jan and Cami stepped in, smiling widely and carrying more gifts. I had done some work in getting something for everyone. I sniffed and could smell the Christmas meal cooking in their kitchen. "You never told me you liked Christmas that much," I said to them. "I thought it would just be presents."

"After finding out what it was, why not adopt it? For ourselves, anyway." Jan held out a hand and used the Force to relieve some of my burden. "Alright, patience my girls! You're going to knock the Doctor over if you keep trying to climb on him like that!"

"I already had the smallest Carpenters knock me over," I said. "Charity was quite cross with her littlest ones."

"I imagine." Camilla laughed and accepted more boxes.

While dinner cooked we reposed to the living room, where under the lights of a Christmas tree - yes, my old Companions had truly adopted the holiday, rather interesting - Chrissy and Kari ripped open their presents with glee, discovering toys of all makes and colorful clothes - yes, including one declaring Chrissy a "Jedi Princess" - and other trinkets.

The advantage of having an electronic means to print money meant I didn't need to worry much about a budget. Unfair, I know, but useful.

As for my old Companions, I gave them other clothes and various trinkets. Jan looked in surprise at a Jedi statuette. "This is Old Tythonian," she murmured. "From the age of the Je'daii. How did you...?"

"...find it? How do you think?"

Janias laughed. "Of course. You got it straight from the era it was made."

"Yes. Just a quick stop, really. The Despot War is too much a Fixed Point in time for me to play with."

After a few more gifts were given, they offered me gifts as well. Colored art from the children, mostly, which I would put beside the picture drawn by Lian Harper for me so long ago. Jan and Cami had crafted a holographic photo gallery of their family from the time they founded it on Salnorra. "You didn't get to see the little ones grow up," Cami explained. "Now you can."

"It means more to me than you know," I said gently. I couldn't quite keep the tears off my eyes.

"We imagined it would," Janias said, playing with Kari's hair absentmindedly.

"Thank you very much," I said. "So... dinner? And then I have a couple of more stops to make, I think."

"I see Korra and Asami went home."

"Yes, they did. Korra's... well, she's not healed fully but she's feeling better, wanted to get back to work."

"That's good." Jan smiled. "What are you planning to get them for Christmas?"

"Well, I have some flying toys for the youngest of Tenzin's kids, a gift for Asami that would probably make Lucsly want to kill me, and..." I listed out my plans for them.

Jan and Cami nodded at each other and at me. "Yes, that will work." Jan smiled at me. "Of course, they're probably going to want one of those kits from Layom Station."

"...and I was thinking... what?" I blinked at Jan. "What kit?"

Jan gave me a knowing look and openly rubbed Kari's forehead, tilting her head toward her daughter slightly.

For a moment I simply stayed quiet. "No, I don't... why would they... you don't think..." I started to shake my head. "No, they're not, they're like sisters to each other."

Their reply was gut-busting laughter.




When all was said and done I stood alone in the TARDIS. The girls' drawings were pinned up. The holographic record of the family was put away for my viewing pleasure later. They were all in bed and it was time for me to go.

I let out a sigh of contentment. I... had my name again. I felt whole. No more running from what I had become. I wouldn't fear it anymore. I just had to be careful, that's all.

And with friends and family like Jan and Cami, I knew I would.

"I'm me again," I said aloud, looking at Katherine's amethyst necklace. "For the first time since you died, I feel like I'm me again. Like everything will be well." I smiled to myself. I felt eager to see what else was out there. And to see whom might be willing to join me next to explore the wonders of Creation.

At the same time, I knew I had other things to do. The dreams were making that clear. Something in my origin was important to my future. All of these Cracks in all of these worlds... something was going on. I wasn't sure what yet. But I would have to find out. And my best option to do that was to keep traveling.



"So many worlds out there. So many places to go," I murmured. My hands started moving over the controls to set destinations into the TARDIS. "Well, let's not wait."

I put my hand on the control lever.

"This is who I am," I said to myself. "This is... me. I am the Doctor." I looked up and laughed. "I am the Doctor! C'mon, girl, Christmas might be over, but the fun's only begun! We've got a Multiverse to explore!"

I thought I heard a pleased giggle come from somewhere. It only made my smile grow.

I yanked back the lever and, despite being alone, I let myself cry out anyway.

"Tally ho!"

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-23 04:38pm

Interlude 1 - First Time's The Charm

Not all of my adventures are relevant to my story as a whole, which is why I usually skip them (well, unless they're amusing or unique in some way). A short time after I faced down the Great Intelligence in Arendelle, I had one such adventure that is of some relevance given what I've gone through.

It involved a lot of running.

But not at first. No, at first I simply materialized in the TARDIS on one of my favorite locales; the Discworld. Unfortunately, instead of materializing during the time of the Morporkian Empire so I could introduce pai sho to Tacticus after our chess match (long story), I found myself in a particular citadel in the Klatchian desert. I looked out a wide-open courtyard where three stakes had been prepared, a caged figure dangling from each, and small fires already burning at the base of each stake.

I sighed. Pre-Bruthan Omnians. A witch burning.

After lamenting my TARDIS' love of dropping me into tricky situations - and locking it to be safe - I looked out at the stunned crowd. "Alright, let's just pretend that I said I've been sent by Om and that he wants you lot to stop this, and that you accused me of..."

"Heresy!," shrieked a robed priest of Om.

"....yes, that," I continued. "And now we can..." I whipped out the sonic disruptor and stopped several arrows from hitting me as I advanced on the burning stakes and cages. "Oi! You lot are so impolite! Now, as I was saying..." I held up the disruptor and put it to Setting 4HD. Powerful kinetic forces erupted outward and battered the flames until they died down. With my sonic screwdriver I unlocked the cages. Two of the women were middle-aged, spinsters most likely, accused because of superstition and foolishness instead of being witches (I've seen Discworld witches, these ladies didn't fit that). They jumped out under their own power and the rest of the crowd was too stunned to stop them from fleeing.

The last was a young woman with dark hair. I felt power thrumming around her as I extended a hand and helped her up. She had a nasty looking bump on her forehead. Age-wise, she looked little older than twenty-five. Maybe a very young-looking thirty. "Alright there, steady," I said.

The priests seemed to regain their composure, which meant that at their command the guards regained enough composure to want to put arrows into us. I pulled the wobbly-legged woman along while my other arm held up the sonic disruptor, fleeing through the nearest door into the halls of the citadel. Tromping boots in the distance told me we had pursuers, so I kept running.

"Wait... wait!" The young woman pulled at me. I turned back as she protested, "We need to find my..."

Our eyes met and we took in each others faces. She didn't recognize me of course. But I... oh yes, I did. Mentally I added age wrinkles and turned the hair completely white. "Esk?", I blurted out.

Eskarina Smith blinked. "You know my name?", she asked.

"Well, of course I..." I stopped. "Oh. Oh, this is rather awkward."

"Who are you?!", she demanded. "Why aren't you dressed properly as a wizard?!"

"I only do that for university occasions<" I replied flippantly. "As for who I am.... I am the Doctor and we need to start running again." I added emphasis to those words as guards rounded the far corner with swords drawn. I grabbed young Esk's hand and pulled her along. "What in the bloody hell are you doing back here?!"

"I was testing a theory of Simon's," she answered. "About..."

"....directed application of dimensional shift to cause time travel?", I finished for her.

"Yes." She huffed as we rounded another corridor. "But instead of Imperial Morporkia I wound up here!"

"Space-time calculations can be off," I said from experience. "Now... oi, watch it!" I barely got the disruptor up in time to absorb a sword blow from a guard who came around the corner. I sidestepped him and Esk swung a foot out that tripped him. "We need a quiet spot, I'll get us out of here."

"I need my staff!", she shouted. "They took it after I was knocked out!"

"Where?"

"I'm not...." She pulled and forced me to stop. For a moment Esk concentrated. She grabbed my wrist. "Follow me!"

"Hey!"

Now it was Esk pulling me along as we ran through the Citadel. We came out through a courtyard garden that was occupied by a number of young ladies who were in states of undress or entirely in the garden pools. They screamed in surprise as we raced along the pathways. It was a rather eye-opening experience. Cloisters usually are like that.

Oh, don't look at me like that. And get your minds out of the gutter. Ever hear "Cleanliness is next to Godliness"? Apparently the Omnians had, and in a desert citadel bathing is done where you can do it.

We finished cutting through what was obviously a cloister and burst through the kitchens, guards converging on all sides. I deflected several arrows with the sonic disruptor. Esk dealt with the front with what I imagined was a magic defense shield of some sort. Even without her staff, she apparently had some magic.

Finally we came to a storeroom of sorts. All sorts of trinkets abounded. Statues of gods venerated in Ephebe and Tsort and Klatch proper, mostly. I looked at a sign by the door. "Items of Profanity". "How quaint," I murmured.

Esk let go of my hand and went to a side pile of wooden totems and the like. "It's in here somewhere," she growled, throwing totems out of the way. I had to move to avoid them and I still ended up catching a particularly... uh... lewd-looking totem. "Muntab mating totem," I murmured. "Hrm. I wonder if Glyph would be...."

Guards burst through the door. I turned and brought the sonic disruptor up again while a bunch of nasty pointy things came within feet of my person. I'm not really comfortable with such. Esk seemed oblivious to this as she continued hunting through the pile of wooden things.

A richly-robed figure entered, heavyset and covered in what a 21st Century Earther would euphemistically call "bling". I didn't recognize him, but I imagined his office. "If you cooperate," he said, "we will commend your soul to Om quickly."

In other words, we wouldn't be tortured.

"The head of the Quisition, I see," I said. "Sorry, I'll have to pass. Om and I have something of an understanding on the subject of my soul."

"Blasphemer, you are trapped in the heart of Om's sacred temple, with thousands of his loyal followers about you," the man replied. "Speaking ill of the Great God Om is madness, and to resist is folly."

"Eh, I've been in worse," I retorted. "Now, I'll give you a counter offer. My friend here is a wizard. Leave us alone and she won't turn you into newts."

At that the men started laughing. "What do you take us for?", the head of the Quisition cackled. "We know that among the infidels, only men can be wizards."

"Normally, yes, but my friend's a special case," I countered. "So why don't you lot move along before she makes asses of you. Literally."

There was more laughter. "Take them!", the head of the Quisition shouted. "Take them..."

There was a surge of energy, a flash of light... and I faced a small horse covered in the robes of the Quisition's leader.

The armed men backed away.

I turned my head back slightly to face Esk, who had pulled her staff out. There was, of course, no knob on the end. "A pony?", I asked.

"I was going for an ass," she answered. "Still getting control down. At least the knob isn't interfering anymore."

"Right." I looked back to the stunned guards. "Well, if anyone here wants to avoid being a pony, i suggest you run."

They ran, screaming to Om for protection. The horse looked at them indignantly and then us.

"As for you, I'm half-tempted to drop you on a more fitting planet for your new form just to learn some lessons, but I wouldn't inflict your kind on them," I continued. "So..." I held out my TARDIS remote and summoned the TARDIS to the room. Esk stared as it VWORPed in. "We'll turn you back when we leave." I looked back at Esk again. "We will, right?"

She nodded.

The horse neighed a protest. I think it was a protest. And then it looked around like it was utterly lost.

Esk, meanwhile, was staring at the TARDIS with wonderment. "What is this?", she asked.

"Oh, my TARDIS," i answered. "Let's try this again, shall we? Come inside." We stepped inside. "I'm the Doctor. I'm a Time Lord from Gallifrey."

Before I could spell out what TARDIS stood for and explain it, Esk spoke. "A pocket dimension? Astounding. Simon will love seeing it."

"And I'll love showing it to him," I answered. I snapped my fingers and the door closed. "So, why don't we go see him?"

She looked at me. "This can move through time?"

"Oh yes," I said. "Although sometimes she likes to take me somewhere unexpected. Usually it's for the best." I went up to the controls. I let myself smile at realizing what this meant. This was, for Esk, our first meeting. "So, back to Unseen University in your time?"

"I would appreciate the ride, yes," Esk said. "And some time to talk. This TARDIS of yours is astounding."

"You'll get used to seeing it a lot."

"I will?", she asked. "What do you mean?"

I looked back at her as I settled my hand on the lever. A grin crossed my face. "The answer to that, my dear Esk..." I leaned in toward her. "...can be summed up in one word."

"Oh?"

"Yes." I winked. "Spoilers."

With that said, I pulled the lever to return her to her own time.

That was how Eskarina Smith first met me. It was, for her, the beginning of a long and complicated relationship, the kind you get between two time travelers.

And I wouldn't have missed it for all the cosmoses of the Multiverse.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-23 04:38pm

Interlude 2 - Everything is Possible

Why do I end up in situations like this?

Seriously, I want to know. Okay, yes, I know it's usually my TARDIS taking me where "I need to go" or maybe I forgot to carry the two again...

So I was standing in a rather large room surrounded by lots of nice and interesting technology that didn't quite fit a normal early 21st Century Earth. I directed my attention to a raised platform and the figures upon it. "So... let me see here. Over here we have a..." I shifted my eyes over to face what looked to be a fancy rocket and left my left hand, finger extended, in a limp gesture toward it. "...delivery system for a rather impressive piece of technology that will cause massive worldwide destruction if it initiates in atmosphere." I raised an eyebrow. "And I can't help but notice you have a couple of teenagers strapped to it." I sighed. "So, take over the world plot? That's usually how it is with you types." I narrowed my eyes. "What is your name anyway? I think I have it on the tip of my tongue. Doctor... Doctor Drago? Dracko?"

"Drakken!" The blue-tinted maniac in a darker blue lab coat bared his teeth in frustration. "It's Doctor Drakken! Get it right, whoever you are!" A confused look crossed his face. "Wait, who are you anyway?"

I snapped my fingers. "Ah yes, Drakken. I don't think we've met." I smirked. "I'm the Doctor. Time Lord. From Gallifrey. And if my guess is right given the readings on those vortex stabilizers, that's a pan-dimensional vortex inducer being jury-rigged to create a wide-scale gravitational event that will cause worldwide power disruptions, tidal activity, and the occasional earthquake." I shook my head. "Or it'll swallow the entire solar system into a dimensional breach if the stabilizers fail. Or create a black hole the size of, oh... England."

"Nevada," corrected one of the teenagers, a blond-haired one with a moderately high-pitched voice. His redheaded friend was busy tinkering with something on her wrist. I kept myself from grinning and giving it away.

"Really? Nevada? That's a bit smaller than I thought..." I shook my head. The TARDIS could only create a black hole the size of Belgium with a catastrophic failure, but that was superior Time Lord safety features for you compared to primitive vortex generators. "Of course, that's academic, either way... that'd be bad. I'd ask why someone would bother building such a thing at this point in Earth's development but frankly...."

Drakken raised a clenched fist. "Would you stop that babbling?!", he shouted in frustration. "I'm about to conquer the world!"

"Or destroy it," I added in feigned sotto voce. I put my hand into my pocket. "Anyway, I suppose there's not much I can do to stop you from way down here. Why, I'd need an exotic energy manipulator and data interface device with remote capability to even hope of interfering with your plans."

Of course, as I said that I was twirling the sonic screwdriver in my hand. And as I finished the line, I held it toward the rocket and did my thing. The purple tip did its thing too, lightning up and whirring. Ah, I love that sound.

There was a tone from the raised platform. Drakken looked back. "Shego, what was that?" He turned back to me. "What did you do?!"

I waggled the sonic screwdriver at him. "Oh, I used my sonic screwdriver. You'd call it an exotic energy manipulator and data interface device with remote capability."

"No, no!," he screamed, rushing over to a display. "You've burnt out the rocket drives! It'll take me hours to get this thing launched now!"

"Presuming you have hours."

That earned me an angry growl. Drakken pointed at me and shouted, "Shego!"

Which is when the angry-looking green-tinted lady somersaulted off the raised platform with green plasma seething around her fists. I drew up my new sonic disruptor and activated Setting 42K to try and absorb the blow. But she was pretty strong and... okay, I was still working the kinks out of my new force-specific deflector settings, alright? Her kick literally knocked the sonic disruptor out of my hand from the reactive force. "Oh bu..." I couldn't get the whole word out before I had to duck to avoid a plasma-infused fist to the face.

Unfortunately, she was pretty quick, even compared to Time Lord reflexes. I was in the middle of shifting my weight again to evade when her foot swept under my legs in a sweeping kick that took me off my feet. I hit the ground and rolled away, barely avoiding a blast of plasma energy from her hands. I spotted the sonic disruptor and went for it in a lunge. As my hand reached for it a green blast struck it and sent it flying further away. I hit the ground on my stomach.

"Awww." Shego smirked. "Did I break your toy?" There was a feral grin on her face as she brought a hand up, nails sharpened like claws, and prepared to slash at me.

She didn't get a chance to swipe downward. She flew over my head with a couple of feet planted into her back by a diving kick. The redhead who had previously been chained to Drakken's rocket did a mid-air somersault and landed on her feet beside me. "Who are you again?", she asked me.

"The Doctor," I answered. Looking at her - long red hair, green eyes, long-sleeved crop top and cargo pants with utility belt, oh, right, I knew who this was, didn't I? - I got back to my feet. "You are... Kim Possible, correct?"

She gave a nod and a self-assured smile. "That's me."

"Why don't you ever stay out of my way?!" Shego lunged at us, green plasma lashing out. Kim rolled under the blast and caught her with a tackle. Shego rolled with the blow, kicked her off, and back-flipped to face her. What commenced was, well, just about every kung fu fight you might have seen before, kicks and punches being evaded or blocked with forearms.

Confident that the young adventuress had matters well in hand, I turned my attention to my fallen sonic disruptor. I ran over and knelt down to pick it up. By the time I was doing so I heard a wild cry of "Aaaaahhhhh!" above me. Someone landed on my back and I got slammed to the floor. Right on top of the disruptor too. Ouch.

"Bloody hell," I grumbled under my breath before I forced myself to stand, clearing the young man off my back. I secured the sonic disruptor to my belt before turning my attention to the boy. He looked up at me with brown eyes. Before I could ask him his name, a loud tone start wailing from overhead. I looked up and saw warning lights going off and looked to the rocket... where the vortex inducer was being activated. "Alright...." I blinked. "What was your name again? Don Droppable?"

"Ron Stoppable!," the young man protested in a voice shrill with aggravation. "Why doesn't anyone ever get that right?! It's Ron..."

"....Stoppable, yes," I said, grabbing his wrist and dragging him with me toward the stairs leading to the upper platform. "No time for pleasantries, we've got to get that inducer offline before it..."

"...creates a black hole the size of Nevada?"

"Actually, we're getting beyond that now," I said, noting the results from the sonic screwdriver. "Drakken's tinkering with it is inducing a quantum flux state that's going to split through at least five dimensions of space-time."

"And that's bad?"

We got to the two-third mark platform and I looked back at him with a bit of irritation, but only a bit, I promise. "Yes. That's very bad. We're talking a multi-dimensional cataclysm that will destroy just about every Earth in this fifth-dimensional coordinate."

Ron stared at me. "Okay, yeah, that sounds bad."

I raised an eyebrow. "You don't have a clue what that means, do you?" We resumed our climb.

"Yes I do!", he protested. "It means that there'll be a multi-dimensional thingie that will destroy the world."

"Every world," I corrected. "Every single Earth in this fifth-dimension cosmos, possibly."

We got to the top platform, where Drakken was busy at his controls. "Drat, why won't this thing work? I..."

"You idiot," I stated, charging to the console and pushing him out of the way. "What did you do?!"

"Uh, nothing!", he protested. "I just..."

"You had an auto-start sequence on the inducer," I sighed, facepalming. "With a hardware backup that I didn't catch that has locked the start sequence into an overload that can't be shut off. Of course. You idiot, even if you'd launched it this setup would have spawned a black hole. I swear, you and your kind with this technology is like a toddler with a nuclear firecracker..."

Drakken crossed his arms. "You don't have to be so mean about it, you know."

"I... whatever." I looked to Ron. "Ron, I need you keeping an eye on the power signature."

"Um, okay." He looked over the screens with a lost look in his eyes. "Uh... what is..."

I stabbed my finger at one display. "Look at the pretty colors. They are yellow. If they turn orange, scream. If they turn red, scream louder. If they turn magenta scream like you're... um... scream like you're in your worst nightmare."

"Being chased by a stampede of monkeys," Ron suggested.

I raised an eyebrow. Granted, I had my own bad memories, but that was with apes. "Yes... that. And if it turns purple, well, keep screaming but it probably means we all end up being disassembled at a molecular level by an out of control dimensional tear." I took out the sonic screwdriver and looked over to the rocket. The pathway that once led to it was retracted and hitting the key to re-extend it didn't work. I gave myself room for a running leap and after the usual ritual of a sigh at my predicament and a breath to steel the nerves, I ran forward and leapt. My feet just managed to hit the other end. I almost toppled backward but held myself on the walkway rail to stop. I continued on to the rocket and used the sonic screwdriver on the panel facing me.

"Orange!", Ron screamed. "We have orange!"

"Of course we do," I muttered as I finished the last bolt on the panel. Once the screwdriver wiggled it loose I pulled the panel out and began reaching in with the sonic. There was a mess of wires and electronics around an innocent-looking cylinder of orange color that was, in fact, proof that Humans can be utterly daft about the things they do with science. "Pan-dimensional vortex inducers. Why is it you lot keep building things that can blow you up in new and interesting ways?" I started working on the power connections to try and prevent the overload. When I reached for the inducer to remove it, a field of energy sizzled my fingertips. "Agh! Youch! Where is that... oh. Energetic flux field. Drakken you brilliant idiot, why an energetic flux field?"

"Red! We have Red!"

"Thank you very kindly, Ronald," I muttered while glancing around at the innards of the rocket. I looked around and found the field generator. All I had to do was get my sonic screwdriver to make direct contact for it to overwhelm the generator's capacitor and short-circuit the entire thing.

I stretched and reached and reached... but.... blast it? Out of reach! It was too far in! I needed to wedge in more! I tried to do so but the space wasn't large enough. And even as I did I felt the energy in the inducer build.

"It's turning purple! That's bad, right?"

"What kind of purple?!", I shouted. "Is it magenta?!"

"It's red purple! Red purple!"

"Then it's magenta. And it's very bad and I can't reach this bloody thing!"

No. No, I refused to believe I was going to die here, the victim of some idiot mad scientist's overblown plot of world domination with science far over his head. I had survived too much to suffer that fate, dammit. I....

There was a clang of sorts outside on the rocket surface. I felt something scurry up my leg and start to come up my back.

"Rufus! Get to it buddy!"

"Who is Ru..." A shape wiggled in around my arm. Pinkish colored, four-legged, buck-teeth.... I raised an eyebrow. "Heterocephalus glaber? Really? A naked mole rat? That's your solution?"

The thing muttered "Hey!" in protest.

I blinked. An intelligent naked mole rat?

Oh well, I've worked with intelligent animals before. Just a difference in size from Mouse. "Alright, take the sonic screwdriver and push it against that piece over there. Got it?"

The mole rat - Rufus I presumed - nodded enthusiastically and followed my arm up to the screwdriver. He took it in his arms, holding it like one might hold a tree trunk, and with a grunt the creature pushed it up toward the flux generator.

"It's really purple now! Really really purple!"

I could already feel the energy. We had less than a minute. Seconds, perhaps.

My sonic whirred and there was an explosion of sparks that caused Rufus to drop the screwdriver. The purple light at the end of the screwdriver went out.

So did the flux generator.

With the flux field gone I could grab the inducer. Which I did. It was hot to the touch, almost scalding, and I let out a grunt of effort as I pulled for all I was worth. I could feel the energy surging and...

The inducer popped out. I was pulling back so hard I fell backward out of the rocket panel and nearly fell off the rocket. I had only one hand to hold myself up with since the other was holding the inducer. Ron's little friend scampered up and grabbed my cuff, trying to pull me up, or to help at least. I made the effort as well...

And then the groove my hand was fitted into gave way. I let out a yell and started to fall. The ground raced up toward me and I was about to hit the hard steel floor head-first.

A grapple shot below me. I used my hand to grab the rope. It was hard on my hand, but it did catch me and allow me to slide down to a safer, if still rattling, landing on the ground. I rolled to a stop on my back and let out a groan. One hand was scalded by the inducer, the other was cut up by the rope.

Kim stood over me, her grapple gun in her hand. "Hey," she said. "Nice work, Doctor."

"My thanks," I answered.

A confident smile was her reply. "No big."

The ground rocked beneath us. I looked over to see explosions ripping out of the disabled rocket. The power systems that had been charging the pan-dimensional vortex inducer had begun overloading. A loud scream came from above with Ron rushing down the stairs, Rufus in his left pocket with my sonic screwdriver visible beside him. An explosion from underneath the stairs tore them out from the wall. Ron went flying, screaming all the way.

Kim went for her grapple gun, but it needed to be reloaded. I got the sonic disruptor out in time to generate a deflector shield that acted as a mid-air platform to break his fall. "Woh! Wohhhh!" He started teetering off of it. Thankfully I got him low enough that his belly flop onto the floor only knocked the wind out of him. "I hate it when that happens," he groaned.

"Yeeeaaaahhhh..." came a similar protest from his pocket.

"Farewell, Kim Possible!" We looked up. An interesting, saucer-like flying craft was heading up through the launch port for the rocket. Drakken was standing in his seat and Shego was at the controls. "You're not getting out of here before my lair gets blown sky high! Hahahahahahaha!" His presumably-trademarked evil laugh echoed above.

She started looking around for an option. "KP, what're we going to do?", Ron cried out.

"Alright everyone, stand together," I called out, fishing my TARDIS remote from my pocket.

"Hey, what is..."

Before she could finish the sentence, the TARDIS control room materialized around us. I went to the controls and triggered the three-dimensional flight control to lift us out of the lair before it, well,, exploded. The TARDIS shook a little from kinetic force, but her protective screens absorbed the worst of it.

"Hey, wait a minute... How did we end up in here?" Ron started sitting up. "What is this...?"

"My time ship," I answered. "Now.... Ms. Possible, do attach one end of your grapple gun to the rail over here, would you?"

"Why?"

"Because..." I smirked. "...we're going to net your arch-foes for you."

"So this is, like, a ship?"

"You could say that.... Just attach to the rail and open the door, I'll have a shot for you."

I was not surprised when the young lady got it on the first try. "Wait... what kind of ship is this?", Kim asked, looking around at the opening.

"Seriously, a flying box?!", I heard Shego shout with incredulity.

"TARDIS to you, young lady!", I shouted back. "Now I suggest you surrender or I will be forced to take measures to secure your compliance."

"Uh..." Ron pointed out the door. "She's firing the afterburners."

"Ah. She wants it that way. Very well. Stay inside, otherwise you're going to get as sick as they are..." I reached for the controls and began a series of sharp maneuvers, dragging the flying car along with the TARDIS.

It didn't take them long to throw in the towel.




After dropping the nauseated villains off at a federal prison, I gave Kim and Ron a ride home. Ron had his hand on the sensor for the telepathic circuit so his mind provided our coordinates. "Really, Ron? This is home?" Kim's voice had a skeptical tone to it. "Bueno Nacho?"

"Hey, saving the world makes me hungry." Ron stepped out of the TARDIS and looked back. He raised his hand and pointed his finger. "Hey. how does that work?"

"How does what..." Kim stepped back and followed his pointing finger. "Oh, that." Her brow furrowed. "'Police Call Box.'"

"How can it be so big on the inside and so small out here?", Ron asked.

"Pocket dimension," I answered. "Courtesy of a dimensionally transcendental field." I walked up to them and turned back to the TARDIS. "I enjoy the look. Authentic English police call box."

"Well, i guess it's not bad." Kim offered me a hand. "Thanks for the help, Doctor."

"You're welcome, Miss Possible. Not hard to give a ride back home."

"Say, didn't you say time ship?" Ron's finger kept waggling, as if he was giving a visual cue to his thoughts. "Does that mean you can, like, go anywhere in time and do stuff?"

"Go anywhere in time, yes." I shook my head. "Do stuff, no. Fixed Points in Time, can't interfere with everything. In a lot of cases I just observe historical events."

"Wow, that sounds like it would be really interesting," Kim said.

"Could you take us to one?", Ron asked.

I raised an eyebrow. "Well, sure. I prefer to stay away from battles, though."

"Oh, that's fine," Ron answered. "So this means you can take me to see the grand opening of the first Bueno Nacho?" Ron put his hands together and his voice picked up in excitement. "I mean, it's one of the most important historical events ever."

Kim crossed her arms and leveled a look at her partner. "Ron, really? All of history and that's what you'd want to see?"

"It's Bueno Nacho's first grand opening!," Ron exclaimed. "That's like the coolest thing ever!"

"They wouldn't have Nacos," Kim remarked.

"Oh yeah."

"What's a Naco?", I asked. "Wait, don't tell me, it's some hor...."

"It's just the greatest thing ever in Mexican cuisine, Doctor... Doctor... who again?"

"Just the Doctor," I replied simply.

"Oh riiight. Well, Doc, it's just the greatest thing ever! It's a nacho and a..."

"...taco, I imagine. A taco filled with nachos." I shook my head. I couldn't believe it. I had finally found a case of fast food franchise devotion greater than Harry Dresden's love for Burger King.

"That it is! Booyah!"

"Well, I won't keep you from your nacos." I stepped back into the TARDIS.

"You live in this ship alone?", I heard Kim ask.

I looked back. "Not always," I answered. "I'm... between Companions at the moment. It happens."

"You look lonely, though."

Truthfully I wasn't as lonely as I'd been after losing Jan and Cami. And certainly not in the state I was after Katherine's death. But... well, yes, I was feeling lonely. I had yet to find a Companion after Korra and Asami returned home and Schala turned me down. Exploring the Multiverse doesn't have the same zing when you're alone, honestly. "It's part of being the only member of my species out here, Miss Possible," I answered. "I can't do much about it."

"Please, you can call me Kim," she said. "Are you sure you don't want to..." She was interrupted by a beeping sound from her cargo pants. She pulled out a blue device. "Hey Wade, what's the sitch?"

"I don't know how you got back to Middleton so fast, but we've got extra trouble," I heard a young man say over the communicator. "Professor Dementor just broke into a lab in Switzerland that was building a portable particle accelerator. And Monkey Fist stole an idol from the London Museum..."

"Oh, come on! Two villains at once?!" Ron shook his fist. "That's not fair!"

"Nuh uh!", his mole rat agreed.

"And I'm hungry!"

Kim put a hand to her forehead. "Can you arrange rides? If we hurry, maybe we can stop Dementor and then get over to Monkey Fist..."

As they spoke I remained quiet. I shook my head. 'Professor Dementor' was bad enough, but I'd dealt with some of the black capes of a couple other universes like this so it wasn't too insane for me. But a villain called 'Monkey Fist'? Seriously? Seriously? This world was completely... totally....

....well, okay, it was very fun. And I was sort of bored. And lonely. And something about seeing Kim and Ron working together made my lack of a Companion all the more acute. For all of the wide gap in their competences, they made an incredible team.

"Oh, what's the harm," I muttered under my breath. "Miss Poss.... Kim, don't worry about those rides," I said aloud.

They looked at me. "What?", Kim asked.

I smiled and went to my TARDIS controls before looking back. "Remember, Time Lord, TARDIS, quick travel across six dimensions. And I do so love the look on those villainous faces when their schemes get thwarted. It's rather fun."

"Oh." Kim smiled and looked back at her communicator. "Don't worry about the rides, Wade, we've already got one."

"Wait, what? With who?"

"Tall guy, English accent, calls himself the Doctor, has a box that's bigger on the inside and can go anywhere in time and space," Ron answered.

"....Kim, is Ron all right..?"

"Actually, he is." The duo stepped back into the TARDIS. "Give me details, Wade, we're on our way."

I overheard the coordinates and put them into the TARDIS controls. "Tally ho," I called out before pulling the lever.

"Booyah!", Ron and Rufus added.

And off we went. It was a rather fun adventure, I have to admit. And... okay, okay, the Naco isn't that bad. Still higher on the gastrointestinal menace scale than Harry's favored Whopper, though.

Of course, seeing Ron's reaction to the army of phantom monkey warriors that Monkey Fist's idol summoned was worth the indigestion.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-24 05:19pm

Episode 25 - The Gravity of the Situation

Being the Doctor doesn't always end up in facing down alien monsters or megalomaniacal conquerors. Sometimes, you find a way to do smaller things. Smaller, but no less important for the people you're helping.

I stood beside the bed and carefully checked the helmet I'd placed over the head of the lifeless figure laying on it. Well, okay, lifeless was perhaps not the right term. Technically, the figure was alive. Biologically. Had been for a while. She was just... how should I put this... waiting for the spark to turn biological life into sentient life.

I looked over at the young couple standing beside the computer I was using as part of this process. "Information transfer ready," I said aloud. "The body is stable. The safety memory is online for backups. We're ready."

"Are you sure this will work?", the young lady asked, holding hands with her dark-haired beau. He was monitoring the computer as well and it was his keyboard that would make the final keystroke. "She'll be... okay?"

"Oh, she'll be fine," i assured her. "I've quadruple-checked all of this stuff. Don't worry about a thing. Whenever you're ready."

The redhead looked knowingly to the young man. He took her hand and said, "It'll be all right. I'm sure this will work too. Do you want to hit the key together?"

He was answered by a nod. He put his hand on the control mouse and she laid her hand over his. They moved it together to the confirmation command on the screen and their fingers clicked together.

I remained silent as I used the sonic screwdriver to ascertain the transfer of data. It happened quite quickly. And thanks to the algorithms I'd made and the high-speed, high capacity data transfer cables I'd rigged together, the data in question transferred quite swiftly. After about half a minute the helmet's lights flashed green and disengaged, showing it had successfully completed the download and shut down. I stood and watched patiently.

The body stirred in the bed. Slowly the arms came up and two small hands gripped the helmet and pulled it off, revealing the face of a little girl with long dark hair and, when she opened them to show, equally dark eyes. She squinted. For the first time those eyes were viewing light, indeed, the first time that body's senses were truly operating, and the first time the little girl had actually felt the use of organic senses. She blinked several times and sat up on the bed. Her movements were stiff as she turned in the bed to face the side and to look on the couple directly. Her eyes blinked again and... yes, tears formed in them. "Mommy?", the little girl asked, her voice the high-pitched sound you'd expect for a child. "Daddy?"

I could hear the sniffling from the young red-haired woman, who moved up and embraced the little girl. "Yui. I can't believe it."

"Mommy!" The little girl wrapped her arms around her mother's neck. "Daddy!" The young man took his turn in holding her close. "I'm here with you now! I can always be with you!"

I let my hearts melt at the tearful embraces and happy talk and waited until they reformed before I spoke up. "I'd like to run a few scans on Yui just to be on the safe side. Asuna, Kazuto... or is it Kirito?" I gave him a quizzical look. "I'm not sure how that whole online handle thing works outside of the VR world?"

"Kazuto is fine," he answered. "Real life names for real world conversations."

"Ah." I nodded. I held up the sonic screwdriver. "I'm happy to say that I see no problems with Yui's implantation into the body." I sat down on the bed next to her and ran the sonic screwdriver around her, the purple tip active and whirring. "Heart rate normal, brainwave patterns normal. Tissues working normally." I turned the sonic off and tapped her playfully on the nose with its tip. "Well, Yui, you've become the picture of health as a young girl, biologically around seven years of age. A very precocious seven, I grant." I put the sonic screwdriver back in my jacket pocket. "How do you feel, young lady?"

I wasn't too stunned to find Yui putting her arms around my neck in a tight hug. "Thank you Doctor," she said cheerily. "Thank you so much! I get to be with Mommy and Daddy in the real world now!"

Another pair of arms wrapped around me, pulling me into a tight hug. "Oh thank you, Doctor," Asuna wept, unable to keep her happiness from her voice or the tears of joy from flowing from her brown eyes. "I don't even know how this was possible..."

"Well, it was a bit of effort," I admitted, not remarking on the sensation of getting my ribs crushed. For someone who spent two years physically comatose from her mind being trapped in a Virtual Reality MMO, Asuna had a bit of strength now. "But when it comes down to it was just adopting some Cylon biological body design work and mixing in a bit of Layom Station technology and some pieces from other sources. No real difficulty, young lady."

Once that hug had ended, Kazuto and Asuna hugged their daughter together. The child wasn't biologically theirs of course; they were teenagers. Rather, during their time stuck in the aforementioned VR MMO, they had come upon Yui, the embodiment of the game's psychological counseling and assistance AI. One locked out by the main control system of the game by the sociopathic maniac who'd locked ten thousand people in a game that killed about two out of every five players by the end. The poor AI had endured years of seeing the players she was programmed to empathize with and give comfort too slide into despair and terror. As she had explained it before the operation, when I was linked with her and setting up the systems, Kazuto - Kirito - and Asuna had fallen together in the game and their friendship-turned-romance had drawn her to their happiness like a light-starved moth to flame.

It was a bit of a long story, with some disturbing bits, but it ended well. And now I had given it a happy coda. Yui was no longer going to be alone when her Mommy and Daddy were doing things in the real world. She would be right there with them. Going on picnics. Walks in the park. Or what have you.

It was... rather heartening to think that even in all of the death and trauma seen in that whole "Sword Art Online" game fiasco, happiness was still found. That's Humanity for you. Humans can find the light in any darkness. Sometimes they can do it without looking.

Oh look, I'm being philosophical.

Anyway, I dealt with something in my eye and excused myself to allow the young couple and their little girl to begin this new, unexpected chapter in their lives as a family.

Always something in my eye with these things, I swear.




A short time later I was in the TARDIS. I'd connected a secure terminal into the world wide internet of this cosmos' Earth and propagated some code into it to find and attach to all of the VRMMOs that had spread based on the common template that Kirito had put online. Just a little... guarantee. To prevent something like that from ever happening again, at least on the software end.

When I was done I took a look around the TARDIS and sighed. It was good to be traveling again. To be the Doctor again. To... to be past all of that grief and pain that started with losing Katherine and continued on through the Time Lord Triumphant and my horrible mistakes. Not that I didn't still hurt from it. I did. But I had put it behind me.

But it didn't change the fact that I was lonely.

Oh, I had friends. I could drop in on a series of different people. But nobody wanted to travel. They had things in their own lives to follow, no room for adventure and exploration with a madman in a box. Nobody teeming with the need to see what was out here. Believe me, I'd offered. I'd tried. Instead, all I got was a reminder of how alone I was whenever I saw my friends working together. Jan and Cami. Harry and Karrin and Molly. Crono and Marle and Lucca. Korra and Asami. Kim and Ron. Now I could even add Kirito - or Kazuto I suppose - and Asuna to that list. With cute little Yui.

Okay, despite my loneliness I grinned again. That AI-turned-little-girl was just so hearts-meltingly adorable.

I remembered thinking in irritation that there was more important stuff to do than to sit around and mope. I needed to keep traveling. I'd find someone in my travels. It was inevitable.

I just wondered how much longer it'd be.

I began pondering destinations. But again... what point was there? I could go to the Amethyst Cliffs of Jeli or the Emerald RIngs of Junimapalanitora and it wouldn't really change much. They were pretty, but seeing pretty things just wasn't as fun as it was with someone along for the first time. Seeing the eyes of my Companions widen as they beheld something new, perhaps something they'd never imagined.... it was always so... so... inspiring. So fun.

Alright, I knew what to do. I needed a sympathetic ear. Someone not afraid to talk and not afraid to kick my Time Lord arse into gear for being mopey.

And someone who could serve a mean drink.

I set my coordinates and went to the TARDIS door. I expected a beautiful sight before me. Marred by remnant damage from a massive war, true, but still beautiful. The majestic spires of Thessia awaited, as well as the little bar where Matriarch Aethyta handed out liquor to Multiverse-weary Time Lords.

I could smell the burning bodies as I stepped out of the TARDIS.

Thessia was on fire.

My first thought was that I'd gone to the wrong time. That I had come during the Reaper War and that I needed to get out of here before I messed with history that had to remain intact for my fateful meeting on the Citadel. But a quick check of the horizon showed no Reapers stomping through the burning city. It was just burning. Faint dots that were obviously aerospace or aerial craft were moving about in the sky. I could make out small explosions of flame.

One of them started to grow. A lot.

"Oh bugger!", i cried out. I dove back into the TARDIS. It was the only reason I didn't get blown to bits.

I tried to raise the defenses, but I was too late to get them all up. The TARDIS shook violently under me from the explosion outside. Consoles sparked and went dead. And then from the fall. The explosion had blown away the ground and sent the TARDIS plummeting into the sewers and underground lines below. I held on for dear life until the shaking stopped and got over to the control panel. A quick check told me the worst. Engines were out, defenses barely active, communications out. I was deaf, blind, and crippled. The only thing I had going for me was the cloaking system still being operational.

I sighed. It looked like I would have to deal with this the old-fashioned way. So I put the TARDIS into invisible camouflage mode and headed out into the sewers of Thessia.

I was going to find out who or what was attacking Thessia and why.




I won't torment you with the sights and smells of the sewers. As graceful and beautiful and all that as the Asari always looked, they still had to do basic biological functions, and that meant the miasma I had to walk around. And, I'm afraid to say, through.

The life of a dimension-hopping Time Lord wasn't always glamorous, I'm afraid to say.

With the sonic I was sweeping for life signs, mass effect energy sources, that kind of thing. With time and patience I hoped to find an exit or more survivors or something. And then the questions could begin.

I had been searching for about half an hour when I saw a life sign. A small one. I walked toward it and was further guided by the sniffling. That's always easy to hear, yet never easy, if you get my drift.

The Asari was a child, maybe five years old by comparison with Humans. She was hunched in the corner and crying to herself in the darkness. I used the sonic to generate light. "Well, hello there," I said carefully, softly. When that got no immediate answer I got closer. I gently settled a hand on the girl's shoulder. "Now, what's..."

I barely got the chance to finish that sentence. The little girl jumped with a start and pulled away from me, screaming in fright. Energy swirled around her; the latent biotics of an Asari could do that with the untrained. But she lacked the control or training to apply that energy violently, otherwise I would have probably taken a biotic blast to the face. She turned and stared at me with wide and terrified blue eyes. "Human," she finally said. "You're Human?"

"Well.... sort of," I conceded.

"Are you a Human soldier?"

I nodded. "I see. Well, I'm not a soldier, but I do try to help. Are you lost?"

The little girl nodded. "I'm scared."

"Ah. Well, don't feel bad, I am too." I offered her my hand. "So how about we travel together and find help? We can talk on the way?"

The little girl considered my offered hand tentatively. She finally accepted. "What's your name?", I asked her.

"Aylia."

"Ah. That's a lovely name."

"What's your's?", she asked.

I smiled gently at her. "I'm the Doctor," I said. "I mean, that's my name. Just like Aylia is your's."

The child nodded. It was interesting, i suppose; I had just gone from dealing with one child and now I was dealing with another.

We worked our way toward the upper portions of the sewer system. In the distance I could hear the occasional boom of explosions. The attack wasn't letting up. The Asari planetary defenses, what was left of them anyway, were still putting up a fight. "Did you see who attacked?", I asked Aylia. She shook her head and I nodded. "Well, I imagine we'll find out shortly enough..."




Our progress led us to an underground sewage control station. And there we found more Asari. There were dozens, at least, of many ages, running around or walking about, tending to things. My eyes scanned the entirety of the station and noticed the line of shroud-covered bodies toward the northern entrance.

I don't like to think about how many of those shrouds were covering figures no bigger than Aylia. Two even had Asari sitting over them in clear bereavement.

Just after Is tepped in a young Asari, a maiden probably no more older in relative terms than a Human thirteen year old, stuck a shotgun in my face. "Who are you?!", she demanded.

"Lamia, put that down!", another voice called out. An older Asari woman wearing combat armor stomped up and grabbed the gun from the young girl. She looked to me and her eyes widened. "Oh... I.... I'm so sorry, I didn't know you were coming."

"Hrm?"

"Doctor, it is so good to see you," the woman said. "And an honor. I feel better about this situation already."

"Ah. I do apologize." I nodded. "I'm trying to place the face."

"You wouldn't know me," the Asari answered. "I'm Lieutenant T'Goni. I was on the Citadel as part of Councilor Tevos' honor guard at the end of the Reaper Invasion. I... watched you and Commander Shepard join the Citadel Council in speaking with the species that were liberated from the Reaper control systems." She looked at me with open admiration. "It's an honor to finally meet you, Doctor."

"The honor is mine, Lieutenant," I answered. I settled a hand on my little compatriot. "This is Aylia. I found her alone in the sewer system."

T'Goni made a motion with her hand and a medic ran over seconds later. She started examining little Aylia who gripped my hand like a vise. "She's got several cuts and abrasions."

"She was most likely at the furthest extent of an explosion," I remarked.

"I can take her to the other children," the medic volunteered.

Aylia shook her head. "I wanna be with the Doctor," she said.

I smiled gently and gave her a pat on the head. "Young lady, I understand. But you also need to have someone take care of you. And I have to go do my job now."

"What is that?", Aylia asked, suspicious.

I winked. "I'm going to save the world, of course. It's what I do."

"But you said you weren't a soldier," Aylia protested.

"I'm not." I winked. "I'm a Time Lord. Bit of a difference. Now, please Aylia... please go let this nice woman check you up, wouldn't want you getting sick from that muck putting an infection in your cuts, would we? Being sick is never fun."

Aylia shook her head. "No it isn't, I can't play when I'm sick."

"And that would be horrible, right?"

"Uh huh." Aylia nodded energetically and let go of my hand. The medic smiled at her and led her away for treatment.

I looked back to Lieutenant T'Goni. "Any idea on the attacker?"

"It all happened so fast," T'Goni sighed. "They just attacked us out of the blue. There was no warning. It's like they appeared right inside the system without using the mass relay."

I frowned. That sounded suspicious to me. Could it be renegade ex-Reaper ships? There was no telling how well they were being policed. And the ones that decided to leave the galaxy might have changed their mind.

"It's not the Reapers,, either," T'Goni continued. "They're not using the same weapons or the same tactics."

"Then someone else. Hrm." I held up the sonic. "Do you have a connection to the planetary internet?"

"Communications were one of the first things to go down," T'Goni answered. "We're gathered around a matriarch that was in the city on personal business, she got us down here."

Ah. I smiled a little. Aethyta knew how to deal with a crisis. "Well, I'd like to see her."

"Right this way."

She led me to an upper level of the control station. A display showed the city's sewer system and from the lighting it had some damage to it. A single figure was flanked by other figures. "Matriarch..."

"I heard," a voice said, and not the one I had expected. The chair turned and the Asari matriarch seated in it appraised me with cold eyes. "You always love to show up when things go to hell, Doctor," Aria T'Loak said coldly. "But I can use the help. And since Commander Shepard isn't here, you'll have to do."

I crossed my arms at the Pirate Queen of Omega. "Ah, well, I'm afraid you have the advantage on me, Aria. May I ask just what you have in mind?"

"Simple. You're going to do your thing and I'll do mine." She scowled. "You help me figure out how to deal with these sons of bitches attacking my homeworld, and my people will handle the rest."




I admit I wasn't enthused to see Aria T'Loak. The woman is territorial and violent, indeed, quite brutal in many respects. she wasn't the kind of person I wanted involved in a delicate situation.

That's not to say she wasn't capable, of course. In general, bandit queens with one foot in statehood tend to require at least some diplomacy and pragmatism, and Aria had those. She wouldn't be impossible to work with.

Which is quite fine since, when it came down to it, I didn't have much of a choice in the matter.

"So the attack commenced this morning?", I asked. I was looking at Aria and, beside her, a map of the capital of Thessia. "There was no warning?"

"None. They didn't use the mass relay, that's not disputed." Aria frowned and tapped the screen. "Communications went out first. The entire extranet went down within moments of the first attacks. Our forces are cut off and divided." She clenched a fist. "The Reapers did so much damage that Thessia's defenses are weak these days. Everything's being put into rebuilding. And now someone is knocking it all down again."

"I had thought you cared more for Omega these days."

"I do, make no mistake of that, Doctor." Aria looked back at me with intense eyes. "But that doesn't change the fact that Thessia is my homeworld, and even if I think the Republics' Matriarchs are a bunch of stuck-up bitches it doesn't mean I don't care about what happens. My people have suffered enough."

There was a tight look in her eyes. She seemed almost... tired.

"I'm actually rather more surprised you were on Thessia in the first place," I admitted.

"I had business to attend to." Her vocie was curt and short. She glared daggers at me. "Personal business."

"Ah." I nodded. "Alright. So, this attacker knocked out global communications and has presumably landed by now."

"We know they have." Aria held up a digital pad and I accepted it. Looking it over, it was reports from T'Goni's subordinates. "We just don't know what they're up to."

"Hrm... rounding up of civilians, but no executions?" I pondered it. "They want prisoners for something. Hostages, labor..."

"I don't care." Aria stood from her seat. Her hand went to the sub-machine gun she had kept by her chair. "We're going to stop it. You and I are going to the surface."

"Ah." I narrowed my eyes at her firearm, but I kept my peace. I get tetchy around firearms sometimes. Usually when they're in the hands of someone who stands a reasonable chance of shooting me. And I knew Aria might do just that if she felt it necessary. "Well, you and I have similar goals, so yes, we shall work together on this. Just remember that I'm not one of your hirelings."

Aria smiled thinly. "Fair enough." She walked past me and to the door. Before she got to it, she added, "Just remember that if you do anything to screw this up, I'll shoot you."

My face curled into a half-grin. No, there was nothing surprising about this at all.




Lieutenant T'Goni and two squads of the armed Asari from the control station joined us in heading to the surface. We didn't go straight out, however, but remained at the highest level of the sewer and moved along its tunnels and maintenance tubes. I had my sonic active to scan for signs of life. An omnitool occasionally flashed to life over T'Goni's forearm. "I've got people coming this way," she said.

Aria nodded. She walked over to a drainage opening and looked up through it. "And we're almost to the cover of the Natitia building. We'll get out there and set up an ambush."

I nodded, for all the good that did. This was one of those things I suspected Aria would run herself. I left her to that and scanned for anything out of the ordinary. My sonic screwdriver didn't pick up anything directly. There were some telltale traces of something... off, though. But I couldn't get a fix on them.

We emerged into the Natitia Building. It looked like it had been a combination of commercial and residential spaces. Our point of emergence was an internal courtyard and access hatch within. High above us a bit of sunlight came through ruined roof and flooring. The angle wasn't right to see us from any orbital surveillance, a small favor indeed. Inside the courtyard the storefronts and businesses were vacant. Holographic signs flickered in and out of view from the intermittent power. A familiar smell of decay made it clear just what was under some of the rubble that had fallen from above.

"There are bodies here," T'Goni reported to Aria. "At least six."

Aria's expression remained cold. "Any of theirs?"

"No ma'am."

"Well." She scowled. "We'll change that soon enough. Follow me."

Aria led us to a second floor balcony that overlooked the avenue moving along the north of the building. From here I could see the havoc wrought. The dead bodies still in the streets. The Asari had suffered grievously under the Reaper onslaught, and now they were suffering again. But from whom? Certainly some of the races of the galaxy might have grudges against them for the whole Prothean beacon business, or their refusal to support Shepard's anti-Reaper efforts during that conflict. But the Citadel carried authority across the galaxy these days. Who would risk their wrath for vengeance like this? Even the former Reapers were, to me, a questionable source for the attack; the other ex-Reapers would certainly have acted to restrain them.

Unless they were all in it together. If they had decided to seize the galaxy anyway.... if Shepard and I had been wrong about them.... I shuddered to imagine. Even my disabling of their most powerful weapon emplacements would still leave them formidable adversaries for the races of this cycle.

"Here they come," Aria whispered. "Get ready."

I pulled my spyglass out and looked in the same direction as Aria. I saw movement come around the rubble that had mostly blocked off a nearby roadway. The people coming were Asari, of varying shades of blue, all looking haggard and a number clearly injured. Children too. I clenched my jaw and read their body language. They were prisoners being marched to an unknown fate.

Some of the faces.... they'd suffered this before. They had been the lucky ones, too. The ones the Reapers had marched into the extermination camps. And now the nightmare was repeating itself.

I closed my eyes for a moment, if just to keep the tears from forming. All of this suffering. Why? Why was this happening?

"There they are."

I looked back out of the spyglass toward the approaching Asari. With the zoom feature I was able to close in on the forms escorting the captives on the march.

I saw them. And I felt my mouth go dry.

I found myself whispering, "It's not possible". Which was wrong, of course. It was possible. And I knew it. But... at this scale? Enough to do this?

Aria's voice was firm. "You know who they are, don't you?"

"I don't understand how..." I began.

Her hand grabbed my shoulder and I whirled around. She grabbed a fistful of my shirt and pulled me close. "Who. Are. They?", Aria asked in cold, simple tones. She didn't have to brandish her gun to make it clear that refusal to comply would end up with me being shot.

I swallowed and gave my answer.

"Sontarans."

"Who?"

"Sontarans," I repeated. "They're a military species made up of clones. Their sole existence revolves around war."

"So... they're like Krogans?", one of the other Asari asked.

"More like Turians," I replied. "If the Turians were made up entirely of clones who cared about nothing but waging war."

"So where are they from?" Aria released her grip on me. "I've never heard of this species existing in the Terminus Systems and I'm damn sure they're not from Citadel space."

"No, they're not. They're not from your galaxy. They're not from your cosmos. They're from mine."

"Excuse me?"

"The Sontarans are from my cosmos, Aria," I said. "They're from the same cosmos my species comes from. And there's only one way they could have gotten here." I looked up. "There's a Crack in the dimensions somewhere on Thessia."

Aria stared at me. "So you're saying these aliens are from wherever you came from?"

"Yes," I said. Although it wasn't true. But at the time... well, I was a Time Lord. Gallifrey was my homeworld, no matter what origin I really had. So it was all pretty much the truth to me in every way that mattered.

"Then what are they doing on Thessia?"

"I haven't the foggiest idea," I answered. I turned around again and brought the spyglass back up. There were at least a dozen Sontarans in full body armor but without helmets, standing "open-skinned" as they would call it. They were shorter than the assembled Asari, but I knew they were very strong, and with their firearms, even civilian biotics wouldn't fare well against them. I swept the spyglass up and down the column of captives to double check my count of Sontarans. "Ten, eleven, twelve... okay, thirteen and fourteen. Oi, this is bad."

"We can open up with biotic attacks," Aria said to the others. "Make your shots count."

I almost voiced a protest against Aria's plan. But I caught my voice as my spyglass moved over a couple of the Asari in the group. "Oh no," I muttered to myself.

Aethyta was in their midst, wounded and limping along with help.

"Liara," I muttered, seeing the young Asari (well, young by Asari standards anyway) helping her father along. Yes, father. Asari consider the parent who didn't give birth the father regardless of actual biological gender. Which didn't apply to Asari anyway. There was a large purple-violet bruise on her forehead and another on a shoulder visible from damage to her plain Asari jumpsuit.

I hadn't worked with the good Doctor T'Soni very much. But I knew her enough to consider her a friend. And I knew how much it would hurt Shepard to lose her. I looked at her relative position in the column and at the guards again. I lowered the spyglass and noticed Aria and her people taking firing positions. My mind did the calculations. I crawled over to Aria and hissed, "You're going to get your people caught in the crossfire."

"Probably." Aria gave me a cold look. "But I'm not leaving them to whatever these 'Sontarans' have in mind, Doctor."

"There's got to be another way," I insisted.

"You have a plan, go ahead and tell me." Aria motioned to the others a signal to prepare. The column was entering range soon.

I quickly took stock of the situation. If Aria's people were good enough shots, and if their ammunition could penetrate the Sontaran armor, they would probably take down half of the Sontarans in the first five seconds of the ambush. But that would leave about half a dozen to shoot back. And anything could happen in a crossfire.

There had to be another way. Some way to disable their weapons, or confuse the Sontarans enough to give Aria's people a better line of fire that wouldn't risk the captives....

And the idea occurred to me. It might just work. Or, well... it might get me blown away by the Sontarans. And I had no regenerations, I remind you, so I was extra leery.

But I didn't know if I could look Shepard or any of the other Normandy crew in the eyes again if I let fear and inaction cause Liara's death.

"Actually," I began to say, "I do. Wait for my signal."

I promptly scurried away from the balcony, heading to the nearest stairs. I rushed down those stairs, ran down the hallways between businesses, and got to the point under the balcony just as the column was entering close range. Aria would be about to fire regardless of my request, so I had to act fast.

I gripped my sonic disruptor and stepped out of cover to face the approaching column. The Sontarans responded to my presence by changing their relative positions. The guards along the side moved up and at least four went ahead of the captives, weapons coming up to point at me. I made no threatening gestures and smiled. "Hello!", I said aloud. "I'd say it was a pleasant day for a stroll, but the scenery's a little too rubbley for my preference!"

"You!" One of the Sontarans stepped up from the rest of the guard, making it five that were facing me. "In the name of the Sontaran Empire, I order you to identify yourself or be destroyed!"

Well, you know how I had to react to that.

"Me?" I smiled. "I'm the Doctor. Now, would you mind telling me what all this is about?"
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-28 04:38pm

There was a moment of silence from the assembled Sontarans. Their captives were looking on in bewilderment with some traces of hope. I looked into their number and briefly made eye contact with Liara. She nodded quietly and I kept my smile from changing. She knew something of what I was up to.

"Identify yourself more thoroughly, Human" the Sontaran sergeant demanded, lifting his weapon toward my head. "'Doctor' is a title found in other species."

"It is," I agreed. "I'm the reason why."

"Sir." One of the other Sontarans looked over from the scanner he held in his hand. "Life scan readings show that this is not a Human. He is registering as a..." The Sontaran looked rather shocked. "...a Time Lord."

"Time Lord? But that's..." A look of realization came over the sergeant's face. He looked back to me. "This is an enemy of the Sontaran Empire! Execute him now!"

By the time he was saying that the first rank was already shooting at me. And I already had my sonic disruptor up with a defensive screen. Blasts struck the deflector screen while I scrambled for cover behind a pillar. "Any time, Aria," I muttered.

"Sontar ha!", the sergeant cried, leading the front rank up to outflank my hiding place.

The tell-tale sound of mass effect driver firearms erupted above us. Aria and Lieutenant T'Goni directed the fire of their squad on the vanguard of the Sontaran guards first. Their first shots were single shot bursts. Sparks erupted from the shaved material rounds of their weapons ripping into the Sontaran body armor and hitting the flesh beneath. I couldn't see more as I had to duck my head back so it didn't get shot, but I could hear bodies hitting the floor.

"Assume defensive positions!", the sergeant called out. "We are under..."

Liara's voice interrupted him. "Biotic fields, now!"

With my deflector protecting me I peeked around the corner again. Liara had left her father in the care of another captive and joined several other younger Asari in generating a large biotic dome around them. The Sontarans opened fire on the field and the first shots were absorbed by the biotic energy. But they couldn't sustain that forever.

They didn't need to. "Fire everything, now!", I heard Aria cry out.

"Oh bugger," I mumbled, returning to cover.

Assault rifle fire began to erupt from above me. Without the worry of mowing down their fellow Asari, Aria and her people were clear to open up with everything they had. With their advantage of height, the cover the Sontarans sought proved insufficient. One after another they went down, save the sergeant and one of his men who found a high enough covering to avoid the fire.

Aria was not to be denied, however. Under their cover fire she stood up on the balcony and jumped down. Biotic energy gathered around her as she landed, absorbing the force of the drop, and with a growl in her throat she charged at the Sontaran defensive position. Her hand whipped out and biotic energy erupted from it, smashing into the rubble protecting the Sontarans and blasting it away. She brought up the sub-machine gun in her hand and struck down the sergeant with a burst of shots that included hitting him in the head. The other Sontaran was shot repeatedly by the squad still on the balcony above.

I drew in a breath and looked over the scene of dead Sontarans and stunned Asari. Before I could speak, Aria stabbed a finger toward the Natitia building. "Everyone get inside, now."

The command jolted the former captives to action. They began moving fairly quickly to take shelter in the damaged building. I walked up beside Aria, who was kneeling beside one of the fallen Sontarans. I brought out the sonic screwdriver but I had already recognized the fact he was still alive. "A survivor."

"I was hoping for one." Aria grabbed the Sontaran by his armor's helmet seal and held him up. I took him by the arm and helped her carry him into the cover of the Natitia building. When we were safely under the ceiling Aria elbowed me aside and glared at the Sontaran's face. "What the hell are you doing on Thessia?"

"I am a Sontaran. I will not cooperate with the enemy," was the reply.

Biotic energy flashed in Aria's free hand. She drove it into the Sontaran. His body tensed up with pain from the warp effect's toll on his body's molecular structure. But there was no scream or any full sign to show he was suffering. I shook my head. "Sontarans don't show pain to the enemy. They consider it a dishonor."

Aria looked at me with clear contempt on her face. "Oh really? Well, let's see how long that lasts..."

Before I could act she sent another warp effect into his body. There was still no reaction. "There's no bloody point in this!", I shouted. "That's not how they work! You don't need to torture him!"

When Aria refused to heed me, I grabbed her wrist before she could put another warp effect into him. "Let go," she growled coldly. "Let go before I shoot you."

"Torture isn't going to solve anything, and I know you're pragmatic enough to understand that," I retorted. "But I can access his personal systems and get answers."

Aria stared daggers at me. Her intense blue eyes were cold and full of malice. "Fine," she finally spat. "But if you don't get results..."

I ignored her threat and used the sonic screwdriver to access the Sontaran's personal device. "They're advance scouts of the 9th Sontaran Battle Fleet," I said. "Looks like this is a scouting mission."

"Really?" Aria laughed harshly. "A scouting mission? A scouting mission is overrunning Thessia?"

"Yes," I answered. "The Sontarans are an enormously powerful species, Aria. Don't expect every cosmos to have a similar interstellar power scale to your own." I looked back to the device. "It looks like the scouts included a company of Sontaran engineers. They're... that's odd."

"What?"

"They're constructing something in the heart of the city," I said. "They need the Asari for this for some reason."

"Why?", Aria asked the Sontaran.

The Sontaran was struggling to reach something on his gauntlet when Aria and I looked back. I noticed it before she did and my eyes widened. "Suicide charge! Run!" I grabbed Aria by the arm and pulled her away from the Sontaran.

We might not have made it in time, but just before the Sontaran exploded a powerful biotic field settled over us. The force of the blast still overpowered it and knocked us off our feet, but the field absorbed enough of the energy of the blast to save our lives. Dust and debris coated us as we struggled to our feet.

Liara was also getting back to her feet. "Are you okay?", she asked.

"Never... better," I said, interrupted by the involuntary cough from the dust trying to enter my throat. I waved my free hand to try and get it away from my nose and mouth. I looked down at the Sontaran device. The screen was blackened and charred. "Suicide charge sent a command signal to overload," I sighed.

"Well, that was useful," Aria muttered. She glared at me. "If you hadn't stopped me from interrogating him..."

"...he would have blown you up," I countered. "The Sontarans aren't like any species you've dealt with, Aria, your methods aren't going to work."

Aria bit back whatever reaction she had and looked to Liara. "Hello, Shadow Broker."

Liara had her best poker face on. "I'm not sure I know what you're talking about."

"Please." Aria crossed her arms. "With all the information brokers on Illum, you don't think I wouldn't find out about a Spectre and mercenaries trying to kill you at the offices of an astrographical mapping company and that, shortly thereafter, the Shadow Broker's orders began to change? Or about how a Drell that I knew had betrayed him was suddenly acting as an agent of the Broker?" She smirked. "The moment I heard Shepard was involved I knew the Broker had gone down and been replaced. Most of the underworld know about the old Broker being gone, they just haven't put two and two together about you."

Liara's expression didn't change. "A very interesting theory, Aria."

"There are other matters at hand, I will point out," I said. "We still need to find out what exactly the Sontarans are up to."

"We'll discuss that when we get back to the control station underground," Aria answered. She walked away from us and began giving orders to T'Goni's squad.

I looked to Liara. "I'm surprised to see you here," I said. "I would have thought you were still on the Normandy."

"I needed time," she answered.

"Oh? For what?"

"For... private thoughts." She extended a hand. "How are you feeling, Doctor?"

"Better than I have in a long while," I answered. "Present circumstances excepted, of course."

"Of course."

"How's your father?"

Liara looked back toward the group of freed Asari. Aethyta was seated on the remains of a bench getting checked over by T'Goni's medic. "She was caught in the concussion of a blast before we were captured," Liara explained. "Her leg will need help and I don't think she can use her left arm very well. She may have a concussion as well." Some relief was visible in Liara's eyes. "But she's alive and not badly hurt. I'm grateful for that."

"Of course." I grinned at her, trying to be friendly and supportive. "It's good to see you, Liara."

"Yes. It's good to see you too, and I'm happy that you're feeling better." Liara smiled gently. "What about your friends?"

"Oh, Korra and Asami went home. Back to work, that sort of thing. Korra's doing better now."

"Ah. That is good." The smile remained on her face. "Their incident on the Citadel didn't cause any further problems?"

"Oh, not at all. A good thing I had assistance from you and Shepard in smoothing that over. Korra would not have taken it well if C-Sec had insisted on putting Naga down."

"It might have gone different if she had actually hurt those Hanar." The amusement remained on her features for a moment longer before it faded. "Doctor, these Sontarans... they're not from our galaxy, are they?"

"No, they're not," I answered her. "They're from my cosmos. That is, the cosmos that is home to the Time Lords."

"How is that possible?"

"There's only one way I can think of. A Crack in the Universe." I shook my head. "I've seen other things from my cosmos slip through those before. But never something as big as a scouting force of Sontarans. The Crack must be huge."

"When we get to an active computer, I can check my data and see if there are reports about any problems in nearby space before the invasion," Liara proposed.

"That would be helpful. The sooner we find any Crack and close it, the better."

Aria's voice boomed from deeper within the building. "Everyone with me! We'll take you to shelter."

"We'd best be going," I said. "We have a lot of planning to do."

"Yes." Liara nodded. I let her lead us back to Aria and the hatch that would return us to Aria's subterranean haven.




By the time we returned to the control station underground, a brief pulse of vibration from my remote control locket told me the TARDIS was partially repaired. I found a quiet corner of the facility and called the TARDIS in. Once there I went to the various controls to see what systems were working yet. Communications were still down and sensors weren't functioning very well either. The engine was good for three, even four-dimensional travel. But she needed more time.

All things considered, I was lucky. After prior incidents of the poor TARDIS getting roughed up I'd beefed up her systems for some extra robusity... robustness? How about stamina? Stamina works. Yes, stamina.

I also took the time to change clothes and put my sewer-soiled suit in for cleaning, because saving the world - or even the whole galaxy - while smelling of the Asari sewer system was simply not good for the image. Or the nostrils.

I was running checks on the sonic disruptor when I heard the door open. "Doctor?", I heard the voice ask.

"Come on in, Liara," I said, my back still to the door and intent on my work.

Liara stepped in. I turned to face her. She was still wearing the dusty Asari suit she'd come in wearing, complete with the bare shoulder from damage. The bruise on her forehead looked less colorful. It was mending. "I still can't believe... this." She looked around at the TARDIS interior. "Nothing in the galaxy can match this."

"She is a unique sight, yes," I said in reply.

She stepped up to the controls and then looked up at the knicknacks I had hanging around. She reached up and took my fez. It still bore the damage from when falling debris had hit it during the time I was trapped in Homura Akemi's half-made witch labyrinth. "You never replaced this?"

I shook my head. "No. Haven't the heart. That's my lucky fez." I looked back down at the disruptor and finalized a check. I watched her look over the amythest necklace Katherine had left behind and my wizard hat for official Unseen University functions. "Looking for something?"

"I'm just..." She ran her hand over a drawing from Kari and Chrissy. "...looking. These drawings..."

"Kari and Chrissy. They're the daughters of Jan and Cami," I explained. I walked up to her. "Liara, we have time. Is there something you want to talk about?"

"I..." She shook her head. "Talking with Aria has made me think about how my life has changed over the last five years."

"I imagine so," I answered. "Are you concerned with her knowing about your current employment?"

"I should be." Liara shook her head. "But the truth is that..." She stopped, as if trying to determine what to say next. "It was so easy before. When Shepard and I defeated the Broker. His resources were there. A network I could use to help Shepard, to help the galaxy, prepare for the Reapers. Without it we wouldn't have won that war."

I nodded. "Yes. You performed admirably."

"So I don't regret it," Liara continued. "But since then... it's been hard. We lost a lot of agents, and so many of those left were out to take advantage of the chaos following the Reapers' defeat. I reined them in, but not without cost." She looked at me. "I've had to kill people in fights before. But ordering... that kind of thing..."

I nodded. "It's different," I said quietly. "You don't have to be there to see their fate."

"I thought it would get easier. But it just gets harder." Liara looked distant. "What was it like for you, Doctor? When you... had to do terrible things? When you tried to make things better and had to do those things to make it work?"

I remained silent for a moment. I didn't like to think about those times. "I... well..." I struggled with my thoughts on it. "To be truthful, I went mad, Liara. It was... intoxicating. To stop worrying about what I was doing and only thinking of my desired results. I did whatever I thought necessary, without regard for how terrible it was, and I got worse and worse..." I sighed. As much as I'd put this behind me - had come to accept it, move on, heal, that sort of thing - I knew I would never entirely get over it. My past deeds would continue to linger. I would continue to remember Ryan Steiner, the Dancing Joker, Eobard Thawne, Garrosh Hellscream, Albrecht Detweiler and the nasty things I did to each of them while I was the Time Lord Triumphant. Among other examples. "...I'm just thankful I had someone who cared about me enough to jolt me out of my madness." I blinked back the tear at the memory of how close Nerys came to dying at Parakar.

Liara looked at me with sad eyes. I blinked. "Why don't you talk to Shepard about it?", I asked. "She cares about you. I'm sure she'll help."

"I don't want to burden her," Liara answered. "She has enough problems."

I nodded. Rebuilding the galaxy was quite a challenge for many people. But I suspected it was more than that. "I'm sure she'd consider it something other than a burden. For you, definitely."

"I can't do that to her. Shepard's had to make enough hard decisions, having to live with the ones I've made to help her wouldn't..." Liara shook her head. "...it's nothing. I...."

I extended a hand and put it on her forearm. Her sleeve was partly rolled up and I felt the texture of her skin on my palm. It wasn't as smooth as my own or a Human or other species with similar epidermal texturing, given the thin lines in the flesh, but she was still warm, and there was the faint buzz of the natural biotic power that lied within her body. Given the telepathic talents of the Asari and my own mental power as a Time Lord, I could sense the raw emotion welling within her. Fear for her father and her homeworld was there, of course. And guilt. Guilt and.. sadness. Despair. I couldn't be sure of specifics without a full mental link, but it was clear to me those emotions were linked to her job as the Shadow Broker.

I thought on what that was like. Liara had done so much since she met Shepard, all in the name of helping her fight the Reapers. She'd gone from the eager, arguably naive young (well, young by Asari standards) xenoarcheologist to the galaxy's most powerful information broker, and had done so over the broken bodies of the people who had stood in her way. She'd had to work with some of the galaxy's nastiest people to help Shepard prepare for the Reapers. And the Reapers were enough of a threat that she could easily justify it. But they were gone. And yet she still had to make those decisions...

Liara stared at me during several seconds of connection. She pulled the arm away slowly. "You're so calm," she said. "Even with the pain. How?"

"I came to accept what I had done. And what I've become." I didn't put my hand back in the same place, but I did offer it. "If you want to talk, Liara, I wouldn't..."

The door opened. T'Goni stood at the threshold. "Matriarch T'Loak wants to see you both," she said to us.

"Ah. Very well." I nodded to Liara. "After you."

She gave me a small smile and walked out of the TARDIS first.




T'Goni stood halfway between Aria and Liara when we settled around the middle table. With several presses on a hard light interface she swept in a map of the city. "We still don't know the status of the structure they're building in T'Susza Plaza," T'Goni explained, indicating the central plaza by all of the major government buildings. "The Sontarans have a defensive perimeter laid out among all of the major avenues. There's no way to get in without getting spotted."

I looked over the identified Sontaran positions. "I expect they have at least some mobile reserves to commit to an attack on the perimeter. You'd need something like a small army to break in."

"Give me a hundred commandos and it'd be easy," T'Goni said. "But we only have twenty here, and some are wounded."

"So brute force won't work," Aria said. "do we have alternatives? The sewer systems?"

"No." Liara manipulated the display to show the sanitation systems moving into the area. "They intentionally isolated all maintenance access to the local sanitation infrastructure to remove that possibility."

"And if you try to blast into those tunnels, the shockwaves will be detected," I added. I reached over and zoomed back out, checking the perimeter. Along the northeast side I narrowed my eyes and pointed. "Look at that. There's a partial blind spot. If we could only blind their positions here and here..." I indicated the positions I was talking about. "...then you could get commandos into the plaza and have them take cover in the underground maintenance areas through this hatch. From there..."

Aria traced the isolated lines. "...we could assault this device directly. Or plant explosives to destroy it from below."

I looked intently at her. "That would probably kill a lot of the Asari around the device," I pointed out.

"And if it saves Thessia, we have no choice," Aria said.

I almost protested but I held back. Her words made sense and I knew I wouldn't dissuade her. But that didn't mean I liked it. And I would do everything to prevent it from happening. "So we need a way to remove those posts."

"Why not use your ship?", Aria asked. "You could move us into that underground directly."

"Yes. But with the damage, I'm not sure the stealth circuits will work well enough to trick the Sontaran scanners." I rubbed at my forehead. "It'll take a day to get the TARDIS repaired enough."

"We don't have that kind of time," Liara said. "If they're a scouting mission, that means an invasion force is going to be coming here at any time."

"Correct." I looked over the map again. "So we need a way to get to those watch posts and knock them out without alerting the Sontarans."

"Well..." Aria crossed her arms. "As it so happens, I happen to have a couple of old Cerberus stealth devices from their Phantom project."

"They'll defeat sight, but possibly not the other spectrums," I pointed out. "It's a risk."

"It's a risk I'm willing to take," Aria said. "One any of us would take to save Thessia."

"Yes." Liara nodded. "I'll go."

I looked at her. There was a faint trace of uncertainty on her face, but just faint. Subdued confidence appeared in her eyes. She was certain she could handle it. I looked to Aria. "You'll need me to be there to jam any transmissions. I'll go."

Aria nodded at us. "Good. I'll have the commandos ready to go through the moment you signal us."




Some time later Liara and I emerged from the sewers and took the lead in approaching the weak point in the Sontaran perimeter. Liara had one of those sub-machine pistols on one hip and a normal pistol on the other. But there had been no combat suits for her to wear so she was still in the now-shoulderless personal suit. I was in one of my customary suits, of course. The stealth device was clipped to the inside of my jacket by the carrying holster for my sonic disruptor. She had a similar clip for her device, on her belt near the pistol on her hip.

We stayed as low as we could while approaching the perimeter. The stealth devices had a finite power supply and could fail easily with too much sustained use, making it imperative to preserve power for the actual entrance. It was only when we almost came to line of sight of the perimeter that we stopped. "Are you ready?", Liara asked me.

"Oh, quite," I said, ignoring the little butterflies in my stomach. I'm not always best at the stealth thing. I'm more the showman. But that wasn't what was needed. I reached into my jacket and activated the device. The scenery seemed to ripple and discolor around me due to the interference it caused with the passage of light. I put a pair of eyeglasses on that returned my view to normal by accounting for the stealth field. Liara had a pair of goggles on that used the same technology as the helmets employed by the Phantoms, allowing her similar normalization of her sight. "Let's go."

We were still careful in our approach. I was concerned that if the Sontarans were really paranoid, they might have up multi-spectral systems that might view wavelengths the Cerberus cloaks didn't cover. I felt my hearts pound with anticipation and worry as we drew closer and closer. When nothing came of it I was, of course, deeply relieved.

We entered the alleyway and got into a safe area, where we kneeled down to talk closely and quietly "What's your plan?", Liara asked me.

"Well, I can jam their signals easily enough, but if they open fire the other Sontarans may hear that." I looked around. "We need some way to disable them quickly."

"What happened when they don't report in?", Liara asked.

"Most likely the Sontarans go on alert. But that gets us time to get everyone into the hatch before the alarm goes out."

"Maybe there's some other way," Liara said. "Couldn't we blind them somehow? Or divert their attention?"

"Any diversion would become suspect," I answered. "However, we could do the next best thing..." I got back to my feet and found the pathway up to one of the watch posts. Even with the stealth device on we could cause some sounds if we rattled the smallest pieces of rubble and the like. This required careful steps.

Thankfully, we made it. Once at the top I brought out the sonic disruptor and set it to setting 21, wide angle. "Stay back, this will cause anything a splitting headache," I warned her with a hushed breath, after which I activated the disruptor.

The neural disruption hit even the Sontarans. They contorted from what their brains insisted was debilitating pain. I hated causing it, but in these circumstances things like "the lesser evil" come to mind, sadly. We watched as the Sontarans fell unconscious. Without a word Liara went to work in restraining them while I used the sonic on their radio set. "Alright, that's moderately good."

"What is?"

"Next check-in is simple text. It buys us more time." I used the sonic to enact my plan; the software in their communications system was instructed to send regular check-ins at inquiries. It would buys us a cycle or two until the next physical verification became unavoidable. "On to the next ones."

We went down the pathway and followed a broken concourse over to the adjacent building. This Sontaran post was on an intermediate floor. Broken glass and rubble made our path irritating and difficult. We'd spent at least half an hour on this entire endeavor by the time we got to the next post. An office area had been converted into a defensive position by the industrious Sontarans. I frowned. I didn't think my tactic of using setting 21 would work, not with this spread. "I can't knock them out all at once."

Liara looked them over. "I'll catch the one on the far wall. Can you get the others?"

I tested the angle again and determined the right spot. "On three," I whispered.

She nodded.

"One... two...."

At the count of three we struck. Liara got her man with a biotic barrier that opened him up to her gunfire. With my targets it was the option of the splitting headache; guaranteed to be more painful than Liara's method, but one that was much easier to survive.

Liara, meanwhile, generated a stasis field around her target. The Sontaran went stiff as biotic energy locked him into place. My sonic disruptor caught the other Sontarans in its setting 21 field.

But only two went down.

The last one was at the edge of the field, maybe, or maybe he was just more robust. The important thing was that he didn't go down entirely. He stumbled out of the field effect and brought his gun over before I could move my disruptor to cover him. I was forced to jump for cover and I barely did so before red light stitched the ceiling and wall behind me, blasting masonry and building material loose with enough force that I felt like I was getting hit with a small sandblaster.

At that point we were fortunate that I had taken the other two down. Otherwise we would have been doomed. We still might be since the last Sontaran standing was going for his radio. I was too busy picking myself up off the floor to stop him.

That left Liara.

With only seconds to react Liara had to go for a quick burst of biotic power. It wasn't surgical or precise. Dark matter crackled with energy as it flew through the air, hitting the Sontaran just as he reached for the communications set. He pitched forward and slammed into it before smashing himself against the wall. The Sontaran didn't move once he hit the ground.

I scrambled to my feet while Liara prepared a dark matter singularity for the trapped Sontaran. I got to the fallen Sontaran and the communication set with my sonic screwdriver already out. And it confirmed what my eyes were telling me.

The force of the Sontaran and Liara's biotic bolt had, well, caused the device to be smashed between the Sontaran and the wall. It was dead. D-E-A-D. Shuffled off this mortal coil, that sort of thing.

Which meant that whenever the Sontarans made a perimeter check, they would know something happened here.

"I don't suppose we could rig a radio of our own?", Liara asked.

"Unfortunately not. The Sontaran communications are encrypted with the decryption tied to the hardware." I sighed. "So we're on a ticking clock. We don't have any time to waste."

Liara nodded. She brought her forearm up and her omni-tool appeared around it. She hit a couple of keys to activate the narrow-beam two-way communication to Aria, informing her of our success. We finished detaining our Sontaran prisoners and, confident they wouldn't be escaping, made it down in time to meet Aria as she gave directions to some of the commandos. There weren't twenty present. And their number decreased as four of the commandos walked past Liara and I toward the direction we came from. I narrowed my eyes. "You detailed teams to kill the guards?", I asked, perhaps a bit too harsh with my tone.

Aria gave me an exasperated look, as if to say "Of course you idiot", and went back to giving orders to T'Goni. Looking around I saw that while there weren't twenty commandos present, there were about thirty Asari around us.

Of course. Volunteers.

I sighed again, hoping their bravery wouldn't result in a quick death fighting the Sontarans. "Everyone remember their probic vents," I said to the assembled. "If you get a shot at their back anyway."

There were nods. Aria checked a map on her omni-tool and motioned foreward. "Let's go."

As we approached the hatch, the angle of the nearby buildings allowed me to see, through a window, the structure the Sontarans were assembling. I got up to a window and looked out at the tower.

No, not a tower. It was a.. transmission antenna? No, the tips weren't quite right. At least not for communications. It could still clearly transmit energy. My eyes went down the gray, metallic tower and watched it widen out at the bottom. Indeed, the base was very, very widened. I could see a Sontaran cargo shuttle, a huge one, at the base, dropping off containers of Asari make. With a further zoom in I even made out the symbols.

Eezo.

Lots of Eezo.

Which wasn’t surprising, since the planet is so rich in it. The Asari owed their innate biological affinity for biotics to the sheer concentrations of eezo in their environment.

There was a distant scream. I heard Liara approach behind me. "What was that?", she asked.

I pulled out my spyglass and used it to zoom in on the lower levels. There were Asari there, kept in captivity fields by the Sontarans. Here and there Sontaran troops would pull an Asari out. Some were crying. Some looked... lost. Broken. I swallowed. This... really was a re-run of the Reapers for them now, wasn't it?

And I hadn't yet seen what the Sontarans were doing to them.

I moved the spyglass over the scene and tried to keep my gut from twisting too much. I tried to follow the line of Asari being brought to... to what?

That was when I saw the pods. Open, with connectors in them that would pierce the skin of a humanoid occupant at several points. At gunpoint the Asari were forced into them, crying out in pain in some cases, or in others too broken or full of despair and shock to do anything else. Once Asari were placed in the pods they were sealed in and the pods moved inside.

I narrowed my eyes. They weren't being killed, that was certain. And those connectors... why would the Sontarans...?

"Oh Goddess," I heard Liara gasp. She was using the Cerberus-tech goggles to zoom in as well. "What are they doing to us?"

"I..." My mind raced as it began to compile facts. As it did so we both beheld one spark of resistance. An Asari maiden recoiled from the pod. She tried to fight back, summoning biotics that tossed two of the Sontarans away. She screamed to the others. In mid-scream a bolt of energy struck her and she fell. Given her chest was still rising and falling, it had been a stun weapon.

The Sontarans wanted them alive.

Why?

What were they doing here? What was the point of this scouting force invading Thessia, of this structure being built right....

I pushed my horror out of my mind and demanded my mind focus itself upon the facts. A scouting force, implying a larger invasion force. Taking Asari alive and putting them into devices clearly meant to tap into their physiology. Building a tower clearly meant to transmit energy. Shipping in eezo taken from Thessia’s mines by the shipload...

When it comes down to it, logic is math with the facts muddied up by limited knowledge and perspective. I mean, you know two means two, and that if you take two and add two you get four. That's basic math. That's how logic basically works too. You just have to make sure you're dealing with two instead of, say, five. Or six. Or zero. And then you start considering significant figures and if you're dealing with the large value of 2 instead of just two and in the end you forget to carry the two and you wind up running from a giant bloody ape or some other silly thing.

Wait, sorry, digressing there. Point is... the more facts you have, the better you can process the problem in true logical, mathematical style.

....of course, it doesn't help that process if you get interrupted in mid-thought by the sound of an explosion.

I couldn't see where the fire was coming from, but it wasn't hard to guess. Explosions hit the ground near us and if not for the wall being in the way Liara and I would have probably been cut to ribbons. Given the screams coming outside, some of the Asari fighters with us hadn't been so lucky. "Biotic fields, now!", I heard Aria shout.

I nodded to Liara, who projected one of her own over us. It would protect us somewhat, but if the Sontarans were using really nasty anti-personnel weapons, it might not be enough. Nevertheless, some protection was better than none. We got out of the building and ran toward the hatch, entering the protective biotic fields of several of the Asari. Others were filing into the open hatch. I almost barked a protest, but another blast interrupted me. Shrapnel struck the combined biotic field, but it held. Given the grunts I heard, though, that wouldn't work for long.

"We're out of time!", Aria declared to me, getting T'Goni into the hatch. "We're swapping to Plan B." She didn't bother waiting for my protest before jumping in.

Plan B. The "blow it all up from below" plan. Otherwise called the "Kill everyone at the base of the structure" plan. I hated it.

But there was no time to complain. I made sure Liara jumped into the hatch and I followed her down.

I had just gotten my head into the hatch when a thunderous roar came from outside, followed by agonized screams. I looked up and saw that the protective biotic field had disappeared. The only sounds coming from above were screams and cries of pain.

Our rear guard had just been wiped out.

And here we were, descending into what was honestly a big trap, the Sontarans sure to be hot on our heels, and with Aria ready to kill hundreds of her own people to strike at the Sontarans.

Sometimes... I really hate my luck.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-29 07:29pm

At least the tunnels didn't intersect the actual waste lines. Thank goodness for small blessings.

Of course, I say this about being chased into dimly lit maintenance tunnels underneath a large concentration of Sontaran troops and their Asari prisoners, with many of my allies hurt or worse and the Sontarans sure to begin coming after us.

Aria led the way in moving deep into the maintenance tunnels beneath the main government square of Thessia's capital city. We remained quiet for the trip. It gave me time with my thoughts, to piece together what the Sontarans were up to.

"What are they doing to us?", Liara asked me.

"Not sure." I considered possibilities. An outlandish one was using the Asari as dark matter batteries, but that was silly and ridiculous. Hostages, maybe? No. Some attempt to utilize their telepathic talents for information processing? Then why all of the eezo?

We stopped. Or rather Aria stopped, at a juncture leading in several directions, and bade all of us through. Once we were she and T'Goni went to work on... ah. A hidden mine trap. Liara took the opportunity to call up the schematics of the underground. We had moved around the perimeter and the current junction would take us deeper into the corridor. I held up my sonic and used it to add the Sontaran tower to the map. "See this port?" I motioned to it. "We could get in and find out what's going on."

"The only thing we're doing, Doctor, is blowing that damn thing to pieces," Aria informed me candidly.

I looked to her. "There are hundreds of your people up there..."

"And billions across the world, yeah. So we do what we have to." She narrowed her eyes at me. "I make the decisions here. I told you that from the beginning."

I scowled. "Yes, you have. I'm saying you don't need to make this one. If I can get in there, I can find out what they're doing and sabotage it. If we just blow it up, and even assuming we survive, there could be other structures like it out there that they're using. I need to know what their plan is!"

Aria considered my words for a moment. "I'll need time to plant the bomb," she finally said. "You can do whatever it is you want while we work."

"That might not be enough time."

"Too bad." Aria looked back and confirmed T'Goni had finished setting the mine. She spied a look at Liara's map and went to the appropriate tunnel. "This way."

As we continued on, Liara looked at me. "Can they track us down here?"

"Possibly," I said. "They have very good technology."

"Then they might plant bombs of their own."

"Nothing too big, or they might damage the foundations of their tower," I pointed out. "Still..." I moved ahead to Aria. "I need to be in the front with you," I said, holding up the screwdriver. "Just in case they're scanning for us and leave any surprises."

"Fair enough." Aria looked at me gravely. "Just don't get in the way."

"Perish the thought," I murmured.

We moved on. About five minutes into our journey, there was a distant explosion behind us. The mine, clearly. Aria and I picked up the pace in response.

It was when we got to the last junction that I called out "stop!" and gestured with my hand. Aria stopped where she was. "Mine." I knelt down. "Very clever. Directed energy mine. One more step and a particle lance will vaporize you."

"How do we get past it?", Aria asked.

"Patience." I twirled the sonic screwdriver in my hand and began the nerve-wracking process of disabling the mine trap. It took me a few minutes. Behind us T'Goni and Aria set another mine.

We finished at about the same time, but just before Aria stepped into the next passage I raised my arm and caught her. "Wait," I hissed.

"What?", she demanded.

I held up the sonic and scanned again. "Oh, clever buggers." I looked to her. "Second mine, just inside. Nice little trick." I looked back to my sonic and held it as close as I dared. "Another few minutes..."

I had just started on it when I heard shouting from behind me. "Here they come!", one of the Asari shouted, and I heard the sound of their mass effect weapons fire. I looked back in time to see Liara and another of the Asari raise a biotic field that caught several bursts of red energy.

"We've got to go, now," Aria insisted.

I frowned and went back to work. The mine was more sophisticated and since I couldn't physically reach it, my options were limited. This was going to take time.

Given the cry of effort from Liara and the others contributing to the field behind us... it was time I didn't have.

"New plan," I muttered. "Aria, can you place a biotic field around the entrance? A cylinder that we can walk through?"

Aria nodded. "I can try."

"Do it. I don't have time to disarm the mine."

Aria nodded. She brought her hands up and I saw intense concentration show on her face. I jumped through first, which might have been rather reckless of me but we were on a time limit and waiting seemed the worse option. "Everyone through," Aria gasped, clearly having to focus intently on maintaining a complicated field geometry. One by one the Asari filtered through. Liara was next to last. T'Goni slipped through while keeping a defensive field up on Aria. Liara's hands came up and she overlapped a second cylinder over Aria's to permit the older Asari to jump through. Practice made up for youth and Liara was able to hold the field long enough for Aria to get through. "This way, now!" I used the sonic screwdriver one last time and took off, putting me in the lead position briefly as we ran down the tunnel.

The Sontarans were already going through the junction by this point. They fired some shots that struck the biotic barriers the rear-guard were maintaining and rushed on in pursuit.

Which was exactly what I wanted them to do.

I hadn't disarmed the mine. What I had managed to do was disable the mine's life sign sensor. It could no longer determine who was friend or foe.

The explosion behind us was both terrifying and oddly gratifying.




We had no more obstacles remaining when we got to a position below the Sontaran tower. The hatch had to be pulled loose by biotics since there was no room for it to go up. The Sontarans hadn't linked their structure so above us was the literal ground floor. Aria pulled a satchel charge out and I grabbed her wrist. "Better idea," I murmured, pulling out my sonic disruptor in the same motion. I pointed it up to the foundation of the structure and flipped it to my ultrasonic vibration setting. There was no immediate visible effect, but there wouldn't be; the vibrations were, however, wreaking havoc on the material making up the floor and weakening it enough for what came next. "Your biotics should be able to rip us a hole now," I murmured.

Aria gave me a skeptical look and sighed. She reached a hand up and threw out a bolt of biotic power.

I tried not to smirk with satisfaction when the tower floor gave way and Aria got hit by one of the bigger debris pieces. Honest. And it was right in the forehead too. Oh, I did my best to keep that smirk off. But I just couldn't help myself. Aria noticed it and glared angrily at me before turning to her subordinates. "Everyone up."

T'Goni, ever the brave one, went first, biotic field ready should she be attacked. There was none above her though. One of the other Commandos came next to finish securing the location. Aria eyed me and motioned to the ladder. "You first."

I raised an eyebrow. "Really?"

"Yes." Her eyes narrowed. "Because otherwise I'm going to think you're staring at my ass, and then I'll probably kill you."

"Ah." I nodded. "Fair enough." And I promptly began to climb.

The ground level of the Sontaran facility was made up of spaces for the pods I'd seen before. I clambered out and began actively scanning with the sonic screwdriver. The nearby pods were full of adult Asari. Given the blank looks on their faces I suspected the Sontarans were employing a constant paralytic agent on them to keep them from moving. But their eyes... yes, they were awake. And they were utterly terrified.

Not that I could blame them, of course. In fact, the entire thing was nightmarish. I frowned and pulled out the sonic, thinking of freeing them, but the sonic's initial scan warned me of the security systems in place. Without a command code, the pods would trigger a deadly electric shock straight into their nervous systems. I frowned and started scanning for a control station.

"By the Goddess...." Liara's voice was full of horror and sympathy. "What's being done to them?"

"I'm not sure," I said. "The pods are wired directly into their nervous systems and connected to the electrical systems."

"I see that." Liara was running her own scans with her omni-tool. "It looks like the pods are set up to trigger and absorb an Asari's biotic field."

"Really?" I blinked and looked over at her scan results. "That's odd. Why would they do that?"

"I'm not sure," Liara answered. "I don't think individual Asari are that powerful."

"Yes. This clearly isn't the Sontarans behaving like the Machines..."

Liara looked at me. "The who?"

"Oh, um, alternate Earth I bumped into, a sentient AI collective had beaten Humanity in a war and, well, due to Human efforts to block sunlight ecologically they made the decision to meet some of their power needs by turning Humans into batteries." I smirked. "Well, they used to do that anyway. I had a talk with them."

"I see. So these things were like the Geth?"

"Not nearly so nice," I answered. "Nor hospitable. Anyway, that's not what they're doing. There's no point in it, not with all the eezo they're shipping in." I held out the sonic. "I need to find a control station." I looked back to where Aria and one of her people were starting to assemble a nasty-looking explosive device. "Aria, I'll be right back."

Aria looked at me and scowled. "Like hell I'm letting you run around, Doctor. You could give away our location."

I reached into my jacket and hit the Cerberus stealth device again. The familiar effects obscured my vision until I retrieved the glasses. "I'll be fine."

Liara did the same. "I'll go with him."

"Fine. You've got five minutes."

Liara and I walked down the hall at a brisk pace. I kept my ears strained to listen for any Sontarans coming but they didn't seem to know where we were yet. I let my sonic follow the electrical systems of the structure until we had traveled for a minute and found what I was looking for. A control station. I began running the sonic on it and tapping keys while Liara stood as lookout. "I'm getting into their basic systems now," I said. "It's rather tricky."

"Nothing coming yet."

"Alright... basic access.... damn, no, I don't have passwords, going to need to do what I can from basic systems." The screen flashed on and went through several command cycles. "Ah..." I watched a schematic of the tower pop up. I could see where the eezo was going; a level just above the one for the Asari pods. They were even connected and feeding into the central spire of the tower. But why? What were they...

And like that, the math problem clicked into place. I could see the values and plug them together.

And it made my stomach twist.

"That's what they're doing," I murmured. "Not batteries."

"Doctor?"

"They're not using Asari as batteries," I gasped. "They're using them as... as sparkplugs!"

"Sparkplugs?"

"Like in an internal combustion engine," I replied hoarsely. "Well, okay, not entirely.... look, a sparkplug is used to generate a very small electrical spark. A weak, tiny little spark, not sufficient at all to drive a feather, let alone a piston. But the spark in turn serves to ignite fuel with a much higher energy potential behind it. And thus you get the 'combustion' part of 'internal combustion engine'. Liara, that's what the pods are for. They're going to use the biotic fields of the captive Asari to trigger an even larger reaction from the eezo above us."

"Like a nuclear fission reaction being used to trigger a more powerful fusion reaction?", Liara asked.

I snapped my fingers. "Another good analogy, if different on the relative power scales." I looked over the schematic again and felt the pieces falling into place. All it required was one last piece. I scoured the file systems and...

Yes. There it was.

"That's what the tower is for," I said. "It's a massive graviton generator. The Asari will trigger the first phase, creating a further energetic reaction with the eezo that will create a graviton burst of immense power."

"But why?", Liara asked.

"There's only one reason," I said, my voice growing hard. "The Crack. They're going to use the graviton beam on the Crack. Enough power and they'll... they'll create a pan-dimensional tunnel through the Crack. A permanent one." I looked to Liara, who looked to me. "They're scouts all right."

"Not just scouts," Liara clarified. "They're pioneers."

"For an invasion," I agreed.

And that was when we heard the shouts in the distance. Liara and I took off running toward the turn ahead, the first to get back to Aria and the others.

We almost ran into Lieutenant T'Goni ad the turn. There was a large black mark on her side, above her hip, and her face was - for an Asari - going pale. "We're under attack," she said. "Aria's almost set the bomb. She told me to come get you."

"Let me see that," Liara said, activating the medi-gel dispenser on her omni-tool.

"No time!", T'Goni insisted. "We've got to go, now!"

We ran ahead. T'Goni kept up with us despite the pain of her wound. The sounds of battle were ahead of us. As we came up to the final turn I could see a Sontaran body laid out on the floor, mowed down by massed fire. I peeked around the corner first.

Aria and her people were surrounded on all sides by a Sontaran force that was now four times their size, given the volume of fire coming from the other direction. A biotic field was around them but growing weaker by the second. I could just make out, over the heads of the Sontarans, the scene of Aria still trying to finish her bomb.

I knew she wouldn't make it. All she was going to do was get her people killed for nothing. And I needed her alive.

"Aria, withdraw!", I shouted. "You can't win this!"

"I'm finishing this!", she screamed back. The Sontarans nearest to me were starting to look around. I had to duck back around the corner. They were going to get curious, and T'Goni was visible to them. The moment one of them decided to look for me, she'd be found.

Time to do something that would probably cause Aria to shoot me.

First things first. I turned off the stealth device and handed it to T'Goni. I put my special glasses on her head next. "This will work for you," I said. "Here." I handed her the sonic disruptor. "Turn invisible with Liara and keep this safe for me. The two of you stay hidden and do what you can to follow me. Just stay hidden."

"What are you doing?", Liara asked.

"Something that will probably get me shot by a bloody mad pirate queen," I answered. I peeked around the corner again. The Sontarans were still busy trying to destroy Aria's force. But they'd be coming for me next. I knew that.

The biotic field protecting Aria and her people was draining. They didn't have time to finish setting up the bomb. But if they retreated, the detonator itself would easily handle attackers. The trick was getting Aria to do so.

So I didn't give her a choice. I turned on the sonic. The tip lit up with my beloved purple and she whirred happily.

The timer on the detonator started ticking down from thirty seconds.

"Dammit!", I heard Aria scream. "I'll kill you for this, Doctor! Do you hear me?!"

I thought it best not to answer.

"Everyone withdraw, now!" I heard the sounds of the Asari withdrawing back through the hatch. A cry of pain came from one, undoubtedly hit by a Sontaran shot.

I had calculated they could safely withdraw in twenty to twenty-five seconds. I gave them the extra five or so seconds to be safe. At the twenty-seven second mark the Sontarans were charging forward to secure the hatch. "Pursue the enemy!", I heard one call out. "Corporal Strek, disarm the..."

Boom.

The blast undoubtedly killed some of the Sontarans. The others were thrown back violently. The rumble through the ground almost cost me my footing. I managed to keep my feet and looked over into the scene of destruction, the dead and wounded Sontarans. The blast had broken through the ceiling of this floor and caused some debris to fall down. Including into the hatch. If Aria was as clever as I thought, she would quickly make sure it looked sealed to be used later.

Of course, not all the Sontarans were dead and wounded. They're tough little buggers, after all. One of the survivors who had just been knocked over looked up and quickly spotted me. "Halt!", one shouted. "In the name of the Sontaran Empire!"

I took off the other way in a dead run. Fitting because I knew that if I was caught, I would end up very, very dead.

And I couldn't let that happen. Not with these stakes. This wasn't just about Thessia anymore. The Sontarans were coming. In force. And against a galaxy still rebuilding from the near-apocalypse of the Reaper threat.

If the Sontarans fired the graviton beam on the Crack, their fleet would come through... and this entire galaxy would be theirs for the taking.




All I could do was run.

Run to the console I'd left behind, sure. Just to make a couple checks on the internal layout. But the Sontarans were hot in my heels and I had to keep going. I could only hope T'Goni and Liara were on my heels.

I was nearly at a sprint when I got to one of the ladders going further up into the complex. I grabbed the rungs and used them to arrest my foward inertia. I got my feet over to them and found purchase as quickly as I could, and this was important as I had just cleared the ceiling of that levell when red bolts of energy stitched across the wall where I had been. While climbing I noted the Sontarans had integrated defensive shutters to help repel assaults and I activated the one below me, getting it closed just as the Sontarans appeared below me, guns raised.

Of course, they could do the same thing. I almost lost a hand to the shutter above me and had to bring up the sonic to manually re-open it. I took the ladder up to the second floor and, after clearing another shutter, the third, remembering the schematics as I did. I was fairly certain that Liara and T'Goni were no longer right behind me, but they had the sonic disruptor and I had set it to search for the sonic screwdriver that I still held in my possession. They would follow at their own pace.

My destination was the upper floors of the base, where the banks of eezo were kept. That was where I had to be to stop this.

I thought to clear the third floor, but before I could the shutter above me opened and a Sontaran was above me, his gun pointing downward. I dived off the ladder just before he fired. I swung the screwdriver up and closed the shutter before he could continue going down. It looked like I needed to get running again, find another way up.

As I ran through those halls I could see that this floor didn't have nearly as many Asari in it. Clearly this was the floor they were filling up. If anything it removed the temptation to free Asari to use in the fight, a bad temptation since it would likely only serve to get them killed for minor gain. With that option gone, I had the option of running onward. I tried for the center of the structure, where the lifts were. If I could hijack one of those it could take me to my destination. While crossing one junction I found Sontarans approaching me from either side. I had to dive for cover before they fired, and I barely made it. I scrambled back to my feet and ran onward. A security blast door presented itself for me to close behind me with a wave of the sonic.

I was in the central shaft now, where lifts surrounded the main assembly for the tower's graviton emitter. There was no way to access it directly, at least not when I had the Sontarans hunting for me and no time to get through their security measures. Otherwise I wouldn't be trying to go for their eezo stores.

I ran to the nearest lift and started using the sonic on it. Unfortunately, it wouldn't open. Even more unfortunately, more Sontarans came through the far door and I had to hoof it. I started running around the circumference of the inner circle, trying lift doors as I did and dodging and weaving to avoid Sontarans.

I got to one door and tried it. It didn't open. I was starting to run again when Sontarans appeared ahead of me. I turned to go the other way... and they were there too. And coming from the nearest main access to the central shaft.

Oh, great. I was surrounded.

"I demand to see your commander," I shouted.

They replied by raising their guns at me.

My hand snaked for the TARDIS remote, but it was a slim chance that the repair cycle had gotten it going again. And here I was, without my sonic disruptor, and my screwdriver not really equipped to disable the guns of more than a dozen Sontarans.

Before I could get shot, the lift slide open behind me with a sharp sound. Dark blue energy popped into existence in front of me and absorbed the first shots. "Get in, quick!", I heard Liara shout. I did so.

Liara was at the controls with her omni-tool active and tied into them. T'Goni, despite her wound, was providing the biotic field that saved me. She handed me the sonic disruptor back just as more fire began converging on her field. Sweat was covering her face from her efforts to maintain the field with one hand.

I brought the disruptor around and sent off a quick kinetic pulse that staggered the Sontaran rank dead ahead. The fire on the field slackened in that moment, long enough for Liara to finish closing the lift. "When you went on the ladder I realized the only way to catch up to you was with the lift."

"And the sonic disruptor's link to my screwdriver told you I was on the third floor?", I asked.

"Actually, I figured that was as far as you could go before they cut you off," Liara replied. She looked to the controls and sighed. "They're trying to cut my access."

"Here, let me." I used my sonic screwdriver on the controls, isolating them from the Sontaran network and enabling Liara to continue her manual control of the lift. "Fifth level, if you would so please."

"The eezo stores?", she asked.

"More specifically, the main graviton generators tied to the eezo," I said. "We take those out, the Sontarans can't finish this."

"Yes. But how will you do that?"

"Overload should work," I answered. "Channel it through the main conduits, the graviton emitter gets fried and the entire tower is useless. Granted, that still leaves a few hundred very mad Sontarans to deal with...."

"If we can get a signal out, a Citadel defense force can be here in hours," Liara said.

"If we can find a way to make that work, we will," I answered. "But let's not presume until we know for sure. Safer that way."




We got to the eezo stores near the generator before the Sontarans caught up with us. A squad of them intercepted us along a T-junction in a corridor and forced us to take momentary cover. T'Goni brought up a biotic field around us and gave us the cover for a counter-attack. Liara threw out a bolt of biotic energy that became a gravitational singularity, pulling the Sontarans off their feet with powerful G-forces and making them vulnerable to the gun in her other hand and my sonic disruptor's neural disruption setting.

We got beyond that encounter and to what I was looking for. The graviton generator was one of six on this floor, all tied together to receive the inputs from the eezo and the Asari in the pods below. A pair of Sontarans were at the control stations. "Halt!", one shouted, reaching for his gun. I knocked him aside with a burst from the sonic disruptor. T'Goni's gun barked out at the other before he could fire.

"How's the wound?", I asked T'Goni. She was moving pretty well again, hopped up on medi-gel no doubt.

"I've had worse," she said while inspecting the room. "We need a defensive position."

Liara looked around the room. "There are some crates of eezo here that might work."

"Only for a time," I said. "Enough fire from the Sontaran weapons might cause a reaction within the eezo." I indicated some machinery in the corner. "That's the relay for the energy they'll draw from their Asari victims. That should work."

"Right." Liara and T'Goni, working together, applied their bionics to tear the equipment loose and turn it into a barricade. When they were done Liara checked the heat clip on her pistol and looked back to me. "Are we going to need to get to the other generators?"

"No," I answered. "The Sontarans had to network this one and the others in order to properly generate their boosted graviton beam." I used my right hand to operate the controls while the left continued to use the sonic as needed. "I'm rerouting all controls here and locking them out of their own systems. Even if they manage to physically isolate some of the generators, I only need a couple for the overload."

"Incoming!"

Liara turned back in time for a Sontaran energy blast to strike the biotic field she quickly brought up in instinctive self-defense. Weapons fire barked out in retaliation behind me while I continued to work, alienating controls to the network and in general taking total control of the Sontaran machine.

Of course, once the overload was complete, we'd have to get out of here, and again I didn't think the TARDIS would be ready for a pickup.

Oh well, one problem at a time.

The Sontarans attempted a direct assault through the doorway and T'Goni and Liara punished them for it. Soon the pile of Sontarans at the entrance made further assaults impossible. I briefly looked back and noticed Liara putting another heat clip into her pistol. "We're going to run out of heat clips," T'Goni lamented.

"Well, that's what you lot get for switching out those nifty cooling systems," I responded.

"Not another one of those debates, please," Liara pleaded. "Garrus was bad enough."

"Yes, well...." I heard a noise. "The wall! They'll breach the wall, there!" I pointed.

My allies had gotten their firearms around just in time for the deafening roar of an explosion and the collapse of the wall. Sontarans poured into the gap firing. Liara and T'Goni responded with their own shots behind their biotic defenses and friendly barricade. Blast after blast hit both, sending sparks flying from the latter.

When the attack continued I sighed and turned to direct my sonic disruptor at the gap. The Sontarans, now helmeted, were protected from the neural disruptor effect, so I had to employ kinetic charge settings to throw them back into the gap in the wall. I returned to work when the attack relented.

The delay had allowed them to cut the network off physically, depriving me of the controls of three of the generators. The rest would have to do. With no further time to waste I activated the generators. A steady hum started filling the room. "Alright, we need to be running," I said. "Now."

"There must be dozens out in the hall," T'Goni pointed out.

"Yes." I grabbed one of the eezo crates and pulled it over to a point on the floor near the machinery leading downwards. I found cover behind some of the other crates and brought my sonic back up. "That's why we're going down."

"What?", Liara asked.

By then I'd already keyed my sonic devices. Both of them. Working in tandem I overloaded the eezo until it generated a localized but extremely powerful gravitational field. More than enough to rip up the floor beneath it while its own power kept its range limited.

Once we had a hole I motioned to the others. "Down this way!", I shouted. Liara and T'Goni fell back from the entrance just as the Sontarans began pushing again. I held up the sonic disruptor and used its deflector setting to give them cover until we were at the hole. T'Goni went first. Liara looked to me and I nodded. "Go, I'm right behind you."

She nodded and jumped. The hum in the generator room was becoming deafening. I stepped back and did a blind jump into the hole. Biotic energy broke my fall and let me land on my feet. We were in an eezo store room. "Keep running!" I shouted. We ran out into a corridor.

The entire building suddenly shuddered. The explosions weren't cataclysmic, structure-gutting ones. Thankfully. They were simply the results of capacitors going snap-crackle-pop from getting too much energy fed into them. The energy surging through the system would destroy them even as it wrecked the central graviton driver that was in the center of the Sontaran structure.

"Where now?", T'Goni asked.

"Back to the bottom floors," I said. "We need to free everyone." As exhilarated as I felt, I didn't smile at that. In my mind I was already considering how many of the Asari might get killed before this was over. They were, relatively speaking, safe in the pods, and getting them out would endanger them.

But if they remained in those pods... they would likely die anyway. Short-term possibility for some versus long-term outcome for them all. All I could do was pick the lesser evil and hope I was fast enough, smart enough, and clever enough to keep the Sontarans from beginning a massacre.

We made it back to the lifts. There was no opposition. Nor did we see any as we appropriated a lift. The damage to the central shaft and the main power conduits to it had cut off lift access above the fourth level. A good thing we were going to the first.

As the lift lowered under Liara's control, she looked to me. "Ambush?", she inquired.

"Would explain the lack of being shot at," I said. "But with their limited numbers, they might be too spread out to catch us again. At least for now." I pondered that and looked back to Liara. I gave a nod. "Ambush," I agreed.

We had a biotic field and the sonic disruptor's deflector waiting when we stepped out into the first floor. Sure enough, there were about twenty angry Sontarans waiting for us with guns drawn. And one with what looked to be a baton stick.

A ha.

"Colonel? General?", I asked.

"General Strak," the Sontaran responded. "I demand your surrender, in the name of the Sontaran Empire."

"I have my own demands," I countered. "I demand that the Sontarans leave Thessia, and this whole galaxy, alone."

"You are not in a position to make demands, Time Lord," General Strak replied.

"Nor are you, really," I answered. "No graviton emitter. No tunnel for your invasion fleet."

"Machines can be rebuilt," Strak answered bluntly. "We have the time." He held up a control. "You do not."

"Pardon?"

"Surrender, Time Lord," Strak said, "or I will trigger the failsafe for these 'Asari' we are using for our device."

My gut twisted painfully. "Failsafe. You mean you'll kill them all."

"Exactly," Strak said. "Surrender, or the Asari will all be destroyed."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-04-30 04:49pm

Ah, hostage crises. Aren't they always fun?

Especially when surrounded by Sontarans, with their commander's finger on the button that would kill hundreds of innocent Asari.

"Do you really think you can rebuild this graviton emitter before the Asari regroup?", I asked. "Because I think you're underestimating them."

"I am a Sontaran commander and I will complete my mission," Strak replied hotly. "Surrender, Time Lord! Now!"

I tightened the grip on my sonic screwdriver. I just needed a bit more time to try something. That meant I had to delay. "You're going to end up killing them anyway," I pointed out. "I don't exactly have motivation to cooperate."

"You'll get to live a bit longer," Strak retorted. "And if you demonstrate a better method for opening the rift, we will not need the aliens of this world. They will survive to become useful subjects of the Sontaran Empire."

"So that's the game? I help you conquer this galaxy and you spare them?", I asked. "A bit unfair."

"Our victory will be assured either way," Strak declared. "Regardless of your petty interference."

I frowned. "Awfully confident little buggers, aren't you?"

"You have ten seconds to surrender," Strak announced. "Nine, eight...."

Liara's hands were still up in creating a defensive biotic field. She was able to keep focus and still turn her head toward me. "Doctor. Please tell me you have a plan."

General Strak's expression changed to surprise. "What did you say?", he asked in a demanding tone. "What did you call him?"

"Doctor," Liara said. "He's called the Doctor."

Strak's eyes widened. I kept an amused smirk off my face when he directed his eyes toward me. "No," he said. "No, that's not possible, we were assured..." He stopped talking.

I raised an eyebrow. "Assured? Of what? By whom?"

"You cannot be the Doctor!", Strak shouted.

"Well, I don't like to brag, but it is the name I go by," I answered. "I'm rather attached to the name, I admit."

Strak's face curled with a snarl. "Open..." he began. I figured the second word was "fire".

But he was out of time.

My arm came up and my sonic screwdriver lit up. Its whir was joined by a pop-crack of sparks as the electronics inside of Strak's control device exploded. I counted my blessings he hadn't been using a dead man switch. That would've taken more time to overcome and I didn't have it.

Strak clearly suppressed an urge to yelp in surprise and pain and dropped the fried control. He glared angrily at me. "You only delay the inevitable! Men, ki-...."

A powerful explosion drowned out Strak's order. One of the bulkhead doors was blown clear off its rails. The heavy metal door slammed into several Sontarans and crushed them against the nearby lift door. Grenades trailing thick gray smoke flew into the room. Nevertheless I recognized the sheer ferocity of Aria T'Loak as she erupted from the smoke surrounded in the dark blue of active biotics. She wasn't carrying a firearm. At this rate she didn't need one, with her biotics fully active and being used to tear through Strak's remaining troops. The sound of further gunfire came from within the cloud of smoke.

T'Goni started firing from the hip, adding to the confusion. Strak barely avoided one of the shots and took off for the nearest door. I grabbed Liara's wrist and shouted, "Come along!"

"He's running!"

"Not quite. Fleeing is disgraceful for a Sontaran. Running off to activate a backup plan? Far more acceptable."

Strak opened one of the blast doors and ran through it. It started to close behind him. Liara threw a biotic bolt that turned into a gravitational singularity that, briefly, resisted the door's mechanism. That bought us just enough time to continue the chase.

Strak led us through the bottom floor of the Sontaran tower, past rows of captive Asari and vacant pod spaces alike. I wished I could open them and get the help of the occupants, but we were in a hurry. Whatever Strak was planning, I knew it wouldn't be good.

We caught up to him just as he was getting into a Sontaran teleport pod. He looked back at us and fired off a shot with his sidearm, forcing us to hit the floor. He disappeared in white light.

"Hurry!" I got back to my feet and dashed to the pod. Liara caught up with me just as I got to the controls. I triggered them to the last destination.

There was a brief sense of dislocation and I found myself in a low-light chamber filled with control stations. Liara stood beside me and looked around. "Where is this?"

"The control bridge of their ship," I answered. "Probably in orbit near the capital."

The ship, as it turned out, was sparsely crewed. There were only a couple other Sontarans on it besides Strak, who was looking over a control. His soldiers were already pointing their weapons at us and Liara and I generated our respective protective fields to absorb their first shots. I kept mine up while Liara went to offense, using biotic power to knock them around. She was looking very pale now. Understandably so; even natural biotics like the Asari burned through calories like mad when using their biotic talents. Liara was running on empty. "This is over," I said. "You waged a fair contest and you lost, General. Take your troops and go back to the Empire."

Unfortunately, the moments we had spent dealing with his subordinates had provided Strak the time to use his weapon on the controls. After, presumably, doing what he had planned to. "I am General Strak, Commander of the 9th Sontaran Fleet's Advanced Scout Force. I will complete my mission."

The ship was moving underneath us. We were moving out of orbit. Through the ports I could see the broken remains of a couple of Asari ships. Smaller ones, mind you. Undoubtedly they were what was left of Thessia's defense squadrons. "You're moving us toward the Crack," I said.

"The Rift, yes. You are brilliant, Doctor, but we prepared for every contingency."

For a moment I thought of what he meant by that. Then it dawned on me. "You've loaded eezo onto the ship. You're going to cause a graviton burst to try and open the Crack anyway."

"It is not preferable," Strak admitted. "But it must be done."

"You bloody idiots," I rasped. "An uncontrolled graviton burst is just as likely to rip open a pan-dimensional tear that will disrupt multiple layers of reality! It could even spread the other way. Your own fleet could get wiped out."

"Some, perhaps, but we have reserves." Strak's look was cold and unyielding. "No Sontaran fears death in the name of the Empire."

"And what about the countless billions you might destroy?!", I retorted.

"A necessary price to ensure my people survive the Time War," he answered.

I blinked. This was set during some Sontaran involvement in the Time War? Still, it did explain, fully, the Sontaran motives. "Your people will survive the Time War," I told him. "I know. It's part of my past."

"You think I would take the word of a Time Lord?", Strak asked. "When it comes to the survival of the Sontaran Empire? If you are truly the Doctor, then you are one of our greatest enemies and would seek to destroy us. If you are not, then you are a mad Time Lord, and thus you are a threat."

In the distance I could see a thin sliver of white against the black void of space. The Sontaran ship coming through had likely caused the Crack to begin appearing in the lower dimensions. I was running out of time. "I can't let you do this."

"The controls cannot be overridden," Strak told me. "There is nothing you can do to stop it."

Liara looked at me in horror. "Then, what will happen to Thessia?"

"Either invasion by the Sontarans or..." I swallowed. "A massive multidimensional tear that will destroy the planet."

Liara looked back to Strak. A tear appeared in her eye. "You monster!" Her hand whipped outward and a blast of biotic power struck the Sontaran. He collapsed as the biotic field began to tear at the very molecules making up his body. He didn't get back up.

I went straight to the ruined controls and then looked to the others. One was intact. But it was... okay, it was communications. It would be potentially useful if I could gain any kind of control over the engines. "Liara, I'm establishing an extranet link here. Can you get a signal out?"

"Yes." Liara raised her arm and her omni-tool flashed into existence. I left her to that job while checking the other ruined controls.

The controls were, of course, destroyed, but that was just the direct interface. If the connections had escaped damage, then I had a chance. I started examining one console. But Strak's work had gone too well. It was completely offline. I sighed and turned to the next one. I cursed under my breath upon seeing that there was no engine control either. "There has to be something here, come on...", I muttered.

Ah. There we were.

The connection to the rigged graviton generators was still active. The ones that Strak had set to overload when his ship arrived at the Crack. With the sonic I could try to send new commands. But he had locked down the shutdown sequence behind a high-level encryption. One I didn't have nearly the time to break.

I needed to do something else. Another way of accomplishing my ends. I needed.... ah. Of course. That would work, wouldn't it?

"Can you stop it?", Liara asked.

"No," I replied. "But I can trigger it prematurely. The Crack won't be effected."

"What do I have to do?"

I looked up at her. "Get to the teleport pod. Go back down. I'll be right behind you."

Liara nodded and I went back to work, listening as she teleported out. Calculations moved through my head in conjunction with the coding that was vital to my plan. My window was shrinking. Once we got too close... I'd have to trigger it immediately. Which would destroy the ship and, well, kill me in an graviton implosion of sufficient scale that it'd be pretty quick.

I didn't want my journey to end here, but I was willing to see that happen if necessary. To prevent the cataclysm that would result if this Sontaran desperation gambit went on.

A command here.... power distribution there.... aaaannnd.... done.

I jumped to my feet and went for the pod. And I almost got to it when powerful arms grabbed my ankles and I fell just short of it. "No!", I heard General Strak cry out. "You will not thwart my mission! Sontar Ha!"

In my mind I had the timer ticking off in my head. Seconds left. I had to activate the implosion now. I held out the sonic screwdriver and used it to remotely activate the system.

The ship shuddered as, deep within it, raw power was dumped into the systems that the Sontarans had prepared for this last ditch "Plan B". The eezo began to destabilize and create a powerful gravitational force that would implode the entire vessel in a burst of gravitic energy. It would take both of us.

Oh well. I let out a sigh. There were worse ways to go. And worse reasons.

That was when I heard the teleport pod activate again.

Liara raised her pistol and it barked twice. Strak's head, well.... it wasn't pretty, I'll say that. She reached down, grabbed me by the arm, and hauled me into the pod. The ship was shaking violently beneath us and, any second, we would be crushed.

Just as I felt the gravitational crunch hit critical mass, Liara's hand hit the teleport pod control. I felt the same dislocation sense and looked up.

Lieutenant T'Goni and Aria were standing near the teleport pod. T'Goni smiled. Aria... didn't frown, so I guess that was good. I looked up to Liara. "Thank you," I breathed. "You saved my life."

"You're welcome. And you saved mine first," Liara answered.

I turned my head back to Aria. "How is everyone?"

"Alive," she answered laconically. "A company of commandos from the southern continent got into the city a little while ago, they've already begun hunting down the Sontaran survivors." She finally smiled. It was a ruthless, vicious one. "They'll get what's coming to them."

"What about the Sontaran forces around the structure?", I asked.

That vicious smile proved to have room to grow. And become more vicious. "They're learning that it's not smart to piss off a planet full of biotics."

"Ah." I nodded and finally took the time to stand.

I was immediately on the floor again. Not because I lost my footing from weakness or anything. Rather it was because Aria's fist caught me across the jaw. If I'd been Human, I'd have lost teeth. As it was, as soon as I got my hand to my mouth I felt blood welling at the corner of my mouth. "Oi, what was that for?", I protested.

"A reward for saving Thessia, and my life," Aria said.

"A reward?", I said, unable to keep my eyes from widening.

"Yes." She smirked. "I was going to shoot you for disobeying my orders. Your reward is getting decked instead. Oh, and..." She leaned in close. "Remember the rule. Don't fuck with me. Next time, you'll be lucky if all I do is shoot you."

She turned to leave at that point. "Aria!", I called out. This made her stop, although she didn't turn. "Might I ask... what were you doing here on Thessia? Really?"

An aggravated groan came from her. "Oh, what the hell. I came because I'm negotiating to get a seat on the Council."

I blinked. "Wait, what? You... you want the Asari seat on the Council?"

"No, I don't," she scoffed. "I want a seat. My seat, as ruler of Omega. It's time the Council started recognizing that the Terminus Systems should have more of a say in how the galaxy is run."

I raised an eyebrow. "Ah. Well... good luck, I suppose."

"I make my own luck," she answered, at which point Aria finished walking out.

T'Goni extended a hand and helped me to my feet. I looked at her and the wound that had blackened her side. "Shouldn't you get that checked out?", I asked.

"I plan on it," T'Goni said. "But I wanted to thank you first. It's... it's been such an honor, Doctor."

"Same here," I said, offering the Asari a handshake. She accepted it and headed off to, hopefully, get treatment. That left me and Liara in the room alone. "So, think your father's bar is intact?" I sighed. "I came for a drink there, actually."

Liara smiled at me. "Why don't we go find out?"

"Good. And...." A little idea had popped into my head, given the activities of the day. "I'd like to ask you an important question, Liara."

"Oh?"

As we got to the door, I nodded and smiled. "I was thinking, maybe you'd like to take a vacation from the Shadow Broker gig for a while."

Her blue eyes twinkled. "A break sounds nice. But what would I do for this break?"

"Well, I happen to know some lovely vacation spots," I answered. "And with time travel, the vacation can last as long as you like. Interested?"

A small smile came to her face. "Maybe I am..."




I wasn't kidding when I said that Liara's father, Matriarch Aethyta, had a bar.

It was a nice little hole in the wall, about as close as the Asari would ever get to a pub I think, not far from the government square. The Sontaran bombardment had not hit the building it was held in so there was no damage to clean up. Within a few days Aethyta herself was up and about again, with - granted - a bandage still on her injured head, and serving me a drink. I took a swig of it and almost spat it back out from the intensity of the flavor and the power. I managed to swallow it and nearly choked from the sheer burning sensation flowing down my throat, delivering what felt to be a solid blow to my forehead by way of nerve transference. "Don't tell me you're mixing ryncol in this?", I croaked.

"That was Dad's favorite drink that wasn't ryncol," Aethyta replied. She chugged her own glass down. "I called it the Head Butt. Dad loved that."

"Because it feels like a Krogan has just delivered one to your forehead?", I asked. I winced and put a hand to my aching forehead.

"Exactly." Aethyta smirked. "So, what do you think?"

"I think.... that I am happy I am a Time Lord and can handle the alcohol better than most species."

"Ha!" Aethyta turned her head slightly. "Alright Liara. What about you?"

Liara was busy holding her head. "I think," she sighed, "that I will leave the drinking to you two."

"Come on, kid, you're a quarter Krogan, you can take it."

Liara shook her head and said nothing.

"So...." Aethyta started putting caps back on her drinks. "You came all this way for a drink?"

"Just about," I answered. "And some conversation. I've been, well, I've been getting a bit lonely."

"Lovebirds finally left?"

I gave her a look. "Well, yes. I already told you about Jan and..." Realization dawned. "Oh, you mean... Listen, they're... Korra and Asami are like adopted sisters, there's nothing romantic about it."

"Nice to know that even Time Lords can be completely oblivious," Aethyta needled.

"Oi, not you too," I lamented. "I got enough of that from Jan and Cami."

Aethyta chuckled. "They'd know, wouldn't they? I give it a year, tops, before your Avatar friend starts peeling her friend out of that jacket..."

A groan came from Liara. "Dad...."

"I'm not having this discussion," I interjected. "No. Not doing it."

"Fine, fine." Aethyta finished capping the last bottle. She looked to Liara. "Hey, why don't you try it?"

Liara looked up at her parent. "Try what?"

"Traveling with the Doc over here," Aethyta said. "You can't tell me you're enjoying that information broker job these days. And you always loved getting out into the frontier."

I kept my mouth shut at that point.

Liara leveled a look at Aethyta. "Something else you picked up from years of spying on me?", she asked bluntly.

"Maybe a little," Aethyta confessed. "But I didn't need to read your old journals to know how much you loved it out there."

"That's comforting." There was still an edge in Liara's voice.

Aethyta seemed to read Liara's mind. Or her thoughts, or something. "I've got some inventory work to finish. Let me know if you want anything else." She dropped a final bottle on the bar.

Silence reigned. After several uncomfortable seconds I picked the bottle up. Serrice Ice Brandy. Quite good. I poured myself a glass and, at Liara's nod, poured her one as well. "Giving it more thought?", I asked.

"Some, yes," she said.

"It's your choice." I took a sip and enjoyed the flavor of the brandy. "Take all the time you need."

"It's not about needing time," she said. "It's..." She drank a little of the brandy. "I want to get away from this. But I have obligations. Responsibilities. And..." Liara shook her head. "I owe it to Shepard to continue helping her in stabilizing the galaxy."

"Quite understandable," I said. "But you know what I think?"

I received a nod in reply, telling me to continue.

"It's not just that. You.... care for Shepard."

There was an uncertain, distant look in her eyes. "Yes."

"And you're afraid of disappointing her. Of walking away from what you see as a commitment and leaving her without your support as the Shadow Broker." I sipped again. "So you're going to keep pushing yourself because that's what Shepard does, and you won't leave her to carry the burden alone." When I was answered with accepting silence, I continued. "Liara, Shepard wouldn't want you to wear yourself our. To wear away at the things that make you Liara. She'd want you to take time off rather than see the stress drive you into a disaster."

I was treated with silence. "It's just..." Liara took another drink. "I need to think about it."

"I understand. I won't push." I took another swig. "Well, I think I've had enough. Going to have a busy day tomorrow."

"Oh?"

"The Asari fleet's finally arrived," I explained. "And I can put into play my plan to seal that ginormous Crack before anything else comes through." I stood to my feet and wobbled a little. Ugh. Aethyta and her Head Butt. I felt like collapsing.

I returned to the TARDIS to sleep it off.




The next day I was on the bridge of the Destiny Ascension. Matriarch Aresia, the new commander of the vessel, stood beside me. The veteran survivor of the Battle of Earth and the Fall of Thessia looked at me with her eyes, only one of which was organic. "Is this really going to work?"

"Oh, it should," I answered. "My only worry was the conduits, but they should hold long enough." I looked out the main viewer and at the Crack that the Sontarans had come through. They hadn't sent any more missions through. Whether that meant they'd given up or they needed more time to get another force through, I wasn't sure. But it was best to get this done as quickly as possible. "Whenever you're ready, Matriarch."

"Fine. Lieutenant T'Ryla, activate the emitter."

A large device that had been assembled, by my direction, came to life. Twin bolts of light erupted from the massive middle bay of the Asari dreadnought and struck the Crack directly. I looked over at the display I'd set up. The Crack was still showing as manifested. "it may take a few minutes," I warned.

"We're already getting overheating," one officer warned. "I'm not sure how much longer the emitter device can last."

"It'll last long enough," I said, watching the colors shift down from purple. The Asari officers on the bridge remained tense as warnings went off of overheating in their systems, capacitors being given energy from the TARDIS they had never been built to withstand (there was only so much I could do to shore them up, after all).

I was rewarded for the risk we took by the change in colors. Red, followed rapidly by orange and then by yellow, and all the while the white light splitting through the void of space narrowed. It finished narrowing with a little crackle of energy and was gone. I nodded to Aresia, who gave the order to turn the device off. I went back to the readings. "Looks like it worked," I said. The Crack is closed off from the main three dimensions." I looked to her. "Make sure your government has this section of space sealed off, Matriarch. The mass effect field of a ship shifting to FTL might cause enough of a gravitic distortion to tear the Crack open again."

"Understood, Doctor." Aresia offered her hand. "On behalf of the Citadel Council and the Asari Republics, thank you for your assistance. We all owe you a debt."

"You're welcome," I replied, accepting the handshake. When all was said and done, I returned to the TARDIS to disconnect her from the ship's systems and return to the planet below.




The TARDIS door opened as I was finalizing the repairs on the TARDIS' control console. I looked up and saw Liara standing in the doorway. Aethyta was at a distance behind her, a half-grin on her face. I could also see a.... Drell, yes. Feron. I fought the urge to grin as I suspected her answer. "Yes?", I asked. "Made your decision, eh?"

"Yes." Liara nodded and smiled. She reached beside the door and picked up a carrying case. I finally let myself smile as she stepped in. "I thought about what you said."

"I see." I looked past her. "Feron, isn't it? Don't be shy, come on in and take a look around."

The Drell operative did so, looking around the inside of the TARDIS. "It doesn't disappoint," he said. He looked back to me. "I only came to ask you to take care of Liara. I don't mind taking over as the Broker while she's gone. But I want her to come back."

"Oh, don't worry about that," I replied. "I'll bring her back."

"You'd damned well better," Aethyta said. "You get my girl hurt, Doc, and the only thing you'll get at my bar is a warp to the face."

"I would imagine so," I said. I extended my hand to each in turn and said my goodbyes. Liara had evidently done so already and was putting her carrying case to the side. Nevertheless she came by to give her father a goodbye hug and a final handshake from Feron.

I was waiting at the control console when she closed the door and walked back up the ramp. "Well." Liara drew in a breath. "Here I am."

"Yes," I said. I smiled at her and kept my hearts from rushing too much. A Companion. I had a Companion again. "Well, it's nice to have you along, Liara."

She grinned slightly. "I think it'll be interesting. Although given your record, I'm sure we'll be running into a lot of danger."

"Oh, here and there," I admitted. "But I don't think it'll be that bad." I rounded the controls. I considered giving her that whole "Madman in a Box" speech but.... what point would that be? She knew what she was getting into. it wouldn't fit as well, honestly. Better to take a different approach. "So, where do you want to go first?"

"I want to see something I haven't seen before," Liara said. "I want to remember what it was like when I was an archeologist traveling the fringes of the galaxy." The unspoken addendum, of course, was that she wanted to go back to those days. For now, for this trip, she wanted to forget she was the Shadow Broker. She wanted to reset things, to go back to an easier, simpler time for her. And a chance, perhaps, to consider her feelings for a certain dashing Human commander.

Fair enough.

So I smiled at Liara. "You want me to turn back time for you," I clarified. "Bring you back to when you were Doctor T'Soni, Prothean specialist and archeologist. Fair enough. Oh, quite fair," I said, clapping my hands together. I eyed the controls and began twisting knobs. "A good thing I'm a time traveler, right? Because I think I can do that. Oh, yes, I think I can do that quite easily."

Our smiles started to match one another's. I put my hand on the lever. "All right, Doctor T'Soni," I said. "Time to see something new."

Liara nodded at me. Her eyes twinkled like twin sapphires, full of life, full of anticipation. "Yes," she said.

And nothing else need be said.

I pulled the lever.

As always, there was a VWORP VWORP VWORP. And, again, I couldn't resist myself. I had to say it. As cliched, as... positively, stereotypically English as it was, I had to say it.

"Tally ho!"

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-05-01 06:21pm

Short 36 - Number Crunching

Once and a while someone I've given a temporal beacon to will call me up and ask for help. And I give such aid with my customary flair of showmanship, technical wizardry, and grace.

I'd never had someone call me up to ask me to check their math, though.

The room was... gray. Unassuming. Unfurnished. And on every wall there were calculations scrawled. Hundreds of them. Complex enough to challenge the greatest minds.

Seriously, they made Euler's Identity look like 1+1.

Of course, if you're writing calculations, it's because you're trying to calculate something. And I'd seen plenty of things calculated. But this was... well, not entirely unique, but close enough.

"You're trying to mathematically model history," I said. "That's what I'm here for? To check your math on your not-so-little foray into psychohistory?"

"With your Time Lord brain, you're one of the few minds who could hope to check my math." The figure beside me was a man approaching middle-age. Gray hair was starting to set in on his temples, in fact. But I knew it wasn't just age causing that.

"Is it just that, Reed?", I asked. "Or is it something else?"

Reed Richards didn't look me in the eye when I asked that. We both already knew the answer.

"The math is brilliant, yes," I continued, pointing a finger along one wall strewn with esotetic-looking equations. "Inspired idea, trying to calculate historical trends like this."

"I got the idea from..."

"Asimov, yes?" I hid a smile. I usually don't speak about "mutually-fictional" settings in front of those I haven't had good and long discussions with about six-dimensional probability mechanics, so I didn't bring up the fact that I'd once had tea with Hari Seldon. I paced the room. "Oh, it's quite briilliant. You've outdone yourself, Reed." I looked back to him. "So. The math, as presented, checks out." I leveled a look at him. "This is about all of this mess with Stamford and the Registration Act, though, not the math. And the choices you and your colleagues have been making."

"The math shows we have no choice," Reed said. "Without the Superhuman Registration Act, our world will suffer repeated societal earthquakes until..."

"It all fails and Humanity quite possibly wipes itself out, right?" I breathed in a small sigh. "Well, your math's pretty clear on that subject Reed. I don't see problems with that."

"That's what I was hoping," Reed answered.

"Unless, of course, something pops up that you didn't calculate for," I continued, wagging a finger at nothing. "Just thinking aloud here, but... Seldon's Plan nearly failed because of one man. One being his psychohistorical calculation could never have hoped to account for. He even knew it could happen. He had to create an entire organization for the explicit purpose of dealing with those kinds of things when they emerged. And once you do that, the outcomes start changing." I twisted around. "All of this is wonderful math, Reed. Exquisitely done. But history isn't just firm values and calculations. It's driven by people. Ordinary, extraordinary, it doesn't matter. A Scots sniper deciding not to shoot George Washington. Ordinary Union soldiers stumbling across General Lee's orders. A driver taking the Archduke Ferdinand down the wrong road. And those are just examples from your own history. You can't calculate for that. So all of this?" I gestured around me. "All it could take is one person making a decision the math doesn't account for. And this all becomes worthless."

There was silence for several moments as Reed pondered my words. "That may be so," he finally said, "but the odds of that are low, and the risks of the alternatives too great. I can't take the risk that you're wrong about this."

At that, I shrugged. "That's your choice, Reed. If you think that's what's necessary. A final word of advice, though." I tried to soften my expression. "Sometimes... you can become so wrapped up in trying to secure the best outcome that you do things. Things that you wouldn't have done otherwise. Things that can destroy who you are. I speak from experience. Don't let this stuff..." I motioned to the equations again. "...cost you everything you love, everything you are. It's not worth it Reed. It's not. I know."

it was clear after a few moments I hadn't swayed him. I held out the sonic screwdriver and waggled it. "Oh, one last thing before we leave." I looked into an empty space in the room. "Sue, if you're as concerned about this as I think you are, you should come out."

Sue Richards faded into sight. She gave me a pointed look. I smiled wistfully and waggled my finger. "Not hard to figure out you were here," I said. "And, well, I'm a Time Lord. We cheat." I looked at each in sequence one last time before walking to the door. "I think I'll leave you two to discuss all of this."

"Actually, Doctor..." Sue began.

"No, Sue," I said. "I'm not getting involved in this lovely little squabble your community is indulging in. I've got better things to do."

"What about Stamford?", Sue asked. "You could have stopped it."

"No, actually, I couldn't," I replied, turning toward her. "Fixed Point in Time, Sue. They exist. I can't do anything to them. Best I could do was turn 800 dead into 612." I turned back toward the door. "Give Cap my regards. You lot can call me when you've sorted this mess out."

I had nothing more to say. I walked quietly to the TARDIS, where Liara was standing and waiting. "Everything alright?", she asked.

"Probably not," I said. I looked at her and sighed wistfully. "Nothing I can do about it, anyway. This is a problem they have to sort out for themselves." I stepped into the TARDIS. "Now, where were we? Oh, yes, I believe I was going to show you the Ziggurats of the Trunari...."

Could I have stayed? Maybe. But some things... I couldn't fix. Some things had to be handled on their own.

Besides, if I had to deal with Maria Hill and her likely attitude toward me, I'd have probably been thrown into Cap's side of the fight anyway.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-05-01 06:21pm

Short 37 - Something Wonderful

Liara wanted me to take her somewhere unique. Somewhere interesting. Somewhere she could never have imagined.

And with that phrasing, you know where I took her already, don't you?

Unsurprisingly, we got to have an adventure when we got there.

It was pandaemonium in the Great Hall of Unseen University as the drooling, oozing, many-tentacled form-shifting monstrosity from the Dungeon Dimensions slurped about, grabbing at student wizards and bledlows and staff with shrieking abandon. I was holding up my sonic disruptor and using its deflector shield setting to reinforce a magical barrier cast by my good friend Eskarina. "So, Liara is your Companion now, is she?", Esk asked. She looked me over. "Don't tell me, she has a girlfriend? It's something of a pattern with you..."

"It's complicated, and I think now is not the best time," I responded with a hint, but just a hint, of irritation. I looked outside the field. Liara was across the Hall, shielding two of the Night Kitchen staff from the slobbering thing. "Liara!"

"I'm fine!", she shouted, grimacing slightly while maintaining her biotic field. "Although this wasn't what I had in mind when I said something I couldn't imagine!"

"Yes, well, occupational hazard here at the University," I called back. "Things from the Dungeon Dimensions do love exploiting every little pan-dimensional experiment. I shall have to give another lecture, I suppose." I felt pain shoot through my arm from the strain of holding the deflector against the largest of the asymmetrical creature's tentacles. It slurped something violently and shifted direction. "So, do we have a plan?"

"Stibbons is getting a containment spell set up," Esk responded. "I'm not sure what Mustrum..."

"ALRIGHT EVERYONE! HERE WE GO!"

Mustrum Ridcully's voice boomed across the Hall as he wobbled in with what looked to be a large bellows on his back and an artifice of some sort in his hands. I looked at it and when I saw the blue flicker at the end of the apparatus in his hand, realized what he was doing. "Wait, Mustrum, don't..."

Before I could stop him, Ridcully squeezed a trigger mechanism that transferred force into the bellows. Multi-colored flame erupted from the nozzle and sprayed its way toward the monstrosity. It shrieked in protest from the flames.

The temperature in the Hall spiked as the flames began setting everything, and I mean literally everything, alight. The burning, shrieking eldritch abomination added to this by setting more of the Hall on fire with its crazed movements.

"Invade my university, will you!," Mustrum shouted. "You picked the wrong Archchancellor to mess with, by Io!"

The flames couldn't penetrate our shield or Liara's, but some of the heat got through and we felt like we were baking. While Mustrum's attack had certainly diverted the creature's attention, it had also turned a relatively stationary force into a writhing, screeching mass that started shifting its mass about in a way that showed it wasn't quite sure what to do with that mass.

Which meant that within moments, it had removed itself from the impromptu circle that Stibbon had been planning to use for the containment spell.

"We've got to lure it back!", I shouted.

Mustrum was backing up slowly as the creature loomed. The flame from his weapon began to die down suddenly. "What? Confound it all! II told them they weren't reading the Dwarvish right!", Mustrum protested as he found himself undefended against a flaming, enraged monstrosity that began tor each for him with its tentacles. With the flamethrower on and his pleasant stoutness of build working against him, there was no way for Mustrum to move out of the way quickly enough. One tentacle wrapped around his arms, the other around his legs, and he was bodily lifted. "Good heavens!", he shouted. "Stibbons! Stibbons, lad, it's about time for that field!"

I was ready to move to Mustrum's defense, but flaming debris came from the ceiling and blocked my path for a critical moment. Even as I extinguished the flames with one of the settings of my disruptor, I knew I'd not make it in time.

Biotic energy slammed into the creature's behind... or at least behind relative to Mustrum. It shrieked angrily again as the dark matter began to tear at its new corporeal body. Liara stood about ten feet away from me in the middle of the Hall, the flames and smoke just starting to obscure her from view. "Liara!", I shouted.

The creature, its wrath re-directed, threw Mustrum back into the door. The bellows on his back burst and thick ebon fluid erupted from it, soaking his robes. The creature didn't turn. It just seemed to change its direction toward Liara. She backed up as it began throwing acidic slime and other nastyness at her, retaliating with more biotic attacks and the occasional singularity to draw in the slime projectiles before they could threaten her. She would give ground and the creature would take it eagerly.

Which, of course, was what she wanted it to do.

Stibbon was undoubtedly watching via crystal or something. The moment Liara had the creature back in the center of the Hall, magic formed around it. A powerful energy field, formed of octarine energy, coalesced into being around the shrieking monstrosity. It wasn't a classic energy field though; the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions ate magic right up. Rather the effect was purely physical, forcing kinetic energy back at the creature whenever one of its tentacles grabbed for something.

With the creature contained Esk and I went to work putting down the flames. I noticed some fires going for where Liara was on hands and knees, tired from the biotic exertions she had just implemented. I rushed to her side and stifled the fires with trusty Setting 4HD. With a smile I offered Liara a hand. "Well done," I said.

"Thank you," Liara answered. "Is he all right?"

"Pride's a bit bruised, but he didn't catch fire or anything. Mustrum will be fine." I looked to where the creature was shifting and lashing out within the stasis field. The far doors opened and Ponder Stibbons entered with several other mid-ranking wizards, men of his age mostly. The elderly wizards of the faculty trailed far behind, ready to lend their expertise in putting down the flames and banishing the slurping, tentacled monstrosity back to its home domain outside of normal reality. "The banquet table!" I heard the Lecturer scream in anguish.

Liara gave me a look. I smiled. "The priorities of some of the faculty here are... different than you'd expect."

That actually made her laugh. Which turned into a cough from the smoke in the air. "Come on," I said. "Let's get some fresh air."




The rest of the University was busy cleaning up with the aid of magic when Esk joined us at the TARDIS near the University entrance. This was her in her older days, white-haired and youthful face betraying some wrinkles of age. "Well, Doctor T'Soni." Esk offered a hand to Liara. "A pleasure to see you."

Liara blinked. "Do I know you from somewhere?"

A knowing smile crossed Esk's face. "Not yet," she offered. "The Doctor and I have different timestreams. Speaking of which..." Esk dug into her wizard robe. "Just where are we again?"

I watched her pull out a book. A blue book. TARDIS blue, to be precise, although thankfully its cover wasn't designed to look like the TARDIS door. Esk flipped it open. "You've had my first meeting with you, right?"

"Do you still turn people into ponies when you're aiming for asses?", I asked with a knowing grin. I looked to Liara. "Do remind me to take Glyph that Muntab mating totem some time."

"Ah, good." She flipped pages. "What about the Tezuman Empire?"

"Drawing a blank."

"Bhangbhangduc?"

"Did Lu Tze finish teaching that lord how to sweep properly?"

Esk grinned. "Well, I think that gives me enough." she said, closing the book and returning it to her robe. She looked at Liara. "Take care of him, please, Doctor T'Soni. He doesn't always show it when he's hurt."

Liara nodded in reply. We said nothing as Esk walked away.

It was odd. Having several Companions already wasn't enough. In Esk it was like I had my very own River Song counterpart. Minus the marriage or the whole "time crunch" thing.

But I couldn't be surprised. Esk could time travel on her own power. Of course she was going to be different from my usual allies and companions.

Still, I couldn't shake the feeling that Esk was going to play a special role at some point. And that, bless her heart, she already knew it.

"So." Liara looked at me. "Where are we going next?"

"Oh, lots of places out there. But first..." I stepped into the TARDIS. "I think you might enjoy a better view."




The door to the TARDIS was open to the void of space. I stood beside Liara at the threshold as she stared at the sight before her. "By the Goddess," she said, astounded. "I... I thought you were exaggerating."

Ahead of us, the Great A'Tuin was heading onward through space, four great cosmic pachyderms on A'Tuin's shell, and the Discworld resting comfortably on their backs and shoulders. A small star and moon were in mid-rotation above and below the Discworld as usual. "Quite the sight, isn't it?", I said, unable to keep the joy out of my tone.

It was... insane. Totally, completely, utterly insane to imagine such a thing existing. But it did. It was there in front of us. If I were to change our angle to be above the Disc we might have even made out the faint lights of Hunghung, Ankh-Morpork, Genua....

"How is this possible?", Liara asked. "I mean...."

"Oh, quantum variability field. Or magic field. it's all spacey-wacey wibbly-wobbly high-dimensional physics involving exotic probability... stuff."

"This is... this is..."

"Wonderful," I finished for her. "That's how I always see it. Sure, it doesn't seem realistic, but eh, reality can be pretty crazy sometimes." I put a hand on her shoulder. "This is the wonder of the Multiverse, Liara, in all of its glory."

She didn't respond. She was too busy taking in the sight. "Is there... more like this?"

"Oh, plenty," I said, stepping back from the door. "I mean, not just Discworld. You've got all sorts of fantastic places. And that doesn't count scenic things like the Rings of Carina or the Obsidian Prisms, the Amethyst Cliffs...."

Liara continued to stare at the Discworld. "I see," she said simply. There was a hint of joy in her voice. As if she was just starting to realize the scope of what was possible.

I said nothing and simply enjoyed the sight of my newest Companion realizing how incredibly wondrous the whole of Creation was.

[url='https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/the-power-of-a-name-dr-who-multi-crossover-si.280682/page-91#post-16903145']'https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/the-power-of-a-name-dr-who-multi-crossover-si.280682/page-91#post-16903145'[/url]
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-05-02 06:15pm

Episode 26 - Magic and Glamour

Two stars of blue and green light burned in the bright sky of the oceanic world of Jugeri. The waves below us crashed against rocks made of solid crystallium - which, yes, looks like crystal - and looked quite beautiful. Even when one considered that the water was full of toxic stuff that included several flavors of natural acid.

One of the fish of this sea flopped helplessly on the TARDIS deck. Liara eyed it warily. "Are you... sure about this?"

"Oh, yes, quite..." I stopped talking long enough to shift the fish away from the door with my foot. "We have to give it a bit of a chemical bath first to get all the nasty stuff out, but after that, well, they're quite tasty." I smiled at her. "If she could have I think Korra would have found a way to bring this species home with her. Unfortunately they'd be rather... toxic..." It flopped again and I had to shift away to avoid getting some rather acidic compounds on me. "...so we ended up giving up on that idea."

"Right..." Liara's voice remained skeptical.

"Oi, i hear that doubt in your voice," I said. "But it'll be gone tonight when we get to have a few of these delicious things for..."

There was a rushing of water outside of the TARDIS. I turned to where I had a fishing pole set up with a line in the water to catch another of the tasty treats. The line was tugging. Very fast. I blinked and went up to it.

The rushing of water escalated into an eruption. A massive sea beast emerged from the depths, the yellows and reds of the creature's scales vivid in their color. "Oh bloody hell..." My eyes had widened, and for good reason. "New plan! We need to go!" I detached the fishing line and turned to rush up to the TARDIS control.

...and I promptly slipped on the fishie. My foot came out from under me and I stumbled forward into the plank leading up to the console, stopping all of my forward progress. "Liara! The lever, now!", I shouted. I looked back and saw the beastie looking at the TARDIS like it considered us a form of snack. It opened its giant maw and lunged from the water for us.

The TARDIS engine started VWORPing at that moment. The scenery started changing to the Time Vortex. I snapped my fingers and closed the doors.

"Well, so much for that," Liara pointed out. "Maybe dinner elsewhere would be better?"

I frowned and nodded. "Yes, I suppose so," I conceded. I found my footing again and finally picked myself up from the ground. "Here, I think I..."

The TARDIS shuddered underneath us. Liara looked to me. "It didn't follow us, did it?"

"No, not at all," I said. I went to the TARDIS controls and pulled the screen over. "Dimensional disturbance of some sort, the TARDIS..." We shook again. "...is having to rough it. Give me a moment and I'll put us down to get our bearings."

"Could this be another of those Cracks?", Liara asked.

"Maybe, maybe not," I murmured. "Alright, let's see where we are..."

I opened the door and we stepped out into a garden park of some sort. It was night and lights were provided by local poles and other light fixtures to illuminate the fountains. I could see the skyscrapers of a decently sized city in one direction, all full of light. Liara stepped out behind me. "Where are we?", she asked.

"Earth, I think," I said. I looked around and saw a discarded newspaper. I looked it over. "Japan, we're in..." A soft smile came to my face. "Ah. Mitakihara. It's been a while. interesting that we arrived..."

I could feel wrongness in the air. Something... negative, I guess. I reached for the sonic disruptor. "Liara, there's something out there," I said quietly. "Get ready."

She nodded at me.

I almost didn't move in time. In a span of an instant a form erupted from the ground beside me, growing into a tall light-colored robed humanoid with a head that... well, it wasn't a head so much as it was blocks, like a face being pixelated into nonrecognition. An alien roar of some sort came from the creature and a limb reached out for me. A brief deflector shield batted it away.

"What are they?", Liara asked.

"Wraiths," I answered. "Beings formed from negative emotion, that sort of thing. Rather unfriendly."

"There's a lot of things you show me that are 'rather unfriendly'," Liara said.

Before I could retort the creature lunged again. I caught it once more and Liara let the wraith have it with a biotic bolt to the face. It reeled backward with an inhuman shriek.

"They're not very tough, are they?"

"Not entirely. But, well.... they tend to come in packs."

Even as I said that more of the wraiths emerged from the ground. "Oi, this is going to be tricky..." I murmured to Liara. "Listen, when I...."

I was interrupted by a loud, jubilant battle-cry. A shorter form, a young lady, landed in our midst, long red hair sprayed out in the wind and a spear twirling in her hand. She lunged it at the first wraith and destroyed it with a single stab. A mid-air roll avoided a counter-attack from a second and a third, which fell in a trio of quick swipes from the spear.

Two more came up on her back. This time there was no battle cry. A second girl leapt in and brought a saber down on one of the wraiths, cleaving it from neck to underarm and destroying it. She shifted on her feet and evaded the inhumanly-fast counter-attack that the survivor gave. A sharp claw on the wraith's hand missed for the most part, only drawing a little blood on her upper right arm. Energy formed along the wound in the shape of a wheel with musical notes, which rotated until the wound was closed, indeed, gone completely, as if it had never been inflicted.

"Ah, Kyouko, Sayaka, excellent timing," I said, but I got no reply while they remained in the thick of the fray.

Liara was blinking. "They're... just children, aren't they?"

"Juveniles," i said. "Adolescents, really. Young teens. So it can be cultural, honestly." Seeing movement I tackled Liara, just in time to keep us from getting ripped up by an attacking wraith. "Probably better if we talk later," I mumbled to her while rolling away to get myself back on my feet. I reached for the sonic disruptor and sent kinetic energy flying into the creature, knocking it back. I got an alien shriek for my troubles.

A couple more loomed behind me and I had to bring up my shield to prevent being clobbered. I fell backward from the sheer force of the blows. Landing on my rump that roughly was always an unpleasant experience, but one easily weathered.

Having a Wraith smash my head in would be less-easily weathered.

Thankfully it didn't come to that. Bolts of pink and light purple energy, in the forms of arrows, studded the wraiths before they could strike. They dissipated in screeches, leaving behind nothing but small black cubes.

When I stood up the battle was over. Two more of the mahou shoujo of this world and city had joined this, young ladies I had a good acquaintance with. "Ah. Madoka. Homura." I nodded at them. "Pleasant night, shame to see it wasted on horrible gribblies isn't it?"

I was quite surprised when Madoka responded to my presence by running up to me. "Doctor! You're here! I... I need your help!"

I blinked. She... needed my help? Truly? "What is it?", I asked. I darkly pondered if Kyubey and his people had violated our agreement.

"My family, they're gone!", Madoka said, her voice full of uncertainty and worry. "They're gone and I can't find them!"

Now that got my attention. "What?", I asked hoarsely. "Really?" For a moment I wondered how. Madoka was... well, it was complicated. She was a mortal girl with a mortal body and simultaneously a bodiless, formless entity that some might fairly call a goddess, a being who spanned space-time with the sole mission of comforting dying magical girls so that they didn't turn into, well, witches. Theoretically that gave her a lot of power to influence the mortal world. But, I realized, it was also limiting. Madoka's "Goddess" side - Madokami if you will - existed for the sole purpose of dealing with other magical girls, of releasing the despair from their soul gems and letting them die in peace instead of being consumed by their darkest emotions. This gave her great powers to call upon.... when it came to her field of interest. Outside of that...

"It's not just the Kanames." Homura stepped up beside Madoka and put a re-assuring hand on her friend's shoulder. "There have been disappearances all across Mitakihara. All of the terror and fear it's causing have made the wraiths even stronger than usual."

"Please, help me," Madoka said. "Help me find them."

My mind was already racing with the possibilities. "Of course," I said to her, offering her a sympathetic hug. "I'll help find your family, Madoka. Right away." I showed her a re-assuring grin to perk her spirits up. Whatever was responsible, I was sure it would be dealt with easily enough.

Of course, I was rather wrong about that. We had quite the adventure ahead of us, as it would turn out.






While it was a nice night for a walk, disappearances are often time critical when you're trying to solve them, and with so much time lost already it was clear I needed to bring us all to the Kaname home with the TARDIS.

That wasn't the odd part. The odd part was that she shuddered again as we made the shift in position. I double-checked my readings and felt a frown of puzzlement come across my features. "How peculiar," I murmured. "There's some form of dimensional instability interacting with the TARDIS."

Liara asked what I presumed all of the girls were thinking. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that there's some form of dimensional distortion that is creating a sort of resistance to the TARDIS," I explained, even as another shudder shook us. The [i}VWORP[/i]ing of the engine seemed to distort as well, changing to a higher pitch. "It's also interfering with our re-materilization. One moment..." I turned a few dials and altered the TARDIS' settings to account for the dimensional instability. The TARDIS engine started VWORPing normally. A few moments later I brought us to a stop. "Here we are," I said, walking up to the TARDIS door.

Liara and the four girls followed me out. The Kaname home was a cute little two-floor house in one of the city's residential wards. The front door of the house was along the left side of it from the street, and our choice of entry. The inside was a marvel of technology, with several digital screens at various points, quite a few set to displaying financial news information. Reasonable, since Madoka's mother worked a corporate job, one important enough to afford this lovely home.

Of course, the home wasn't so lovely. There was smashed furniture here and there. I went into the garden and found it trashed. I caught the sight of dried blood and recognized a pair of garden shears nearby. They were stained with fluid, greenish-blue in color.... cyan, definitely cyan. I blinked and ran my sonic screwdriver over it.

"Blood," I murmured.

"Wait, are you saying that's blood?", Sayaka asked. "But it's... blue-green stuff."

"Yes. I can't tell what species, but it's definitely blood." I looked over at the splotches of dark red. "Human blood. A struggle, then."

"Dad," Madoka said, tearing up. I could see the concern in her eyes. "They hurt him."

"And he hurt them. Or it." I looked back toward the rest of the house and the stairway leading up to the second floor. Here and there I could see a small droplet of darkened cyan stark against the brown, wood-paneled floor. "They ran upstairs." I rushed up the steps at a brisk pace, checking the sonic screwdriver for scan results as I went, and followed the trail down the hall of bedrooms. One bedroom, lined with pink, was definitely Madoka's. And it had been trashed. The stuffed animals she kept were ripped apart and had created piles of fluff everywhere, mixed in with the detritus of her wrecked bed and bedroom furnishings. Further down the bedroom for her little brother Tatsuya was just as demolished.

But the trail led to the master bedroom. Equally trashed. The cyan blood stains ended here. And now there were more red blood stains. Just a few.

I swallowed. Poor Madoka. What could have done this?

"And you say this is happening across the city?"

"Yes." Homura stepped into my vision. "I've tried to follow them, but I've only see vague shapes coming and going. And whenever I get close, the wraiths attack."

"I've never seen blood of this shade before," Liara said, kneeling over. "What species could it be?"

"I'm trying to think. Definitely not iron-based blood. Could have a copper component like Vulcanoids." I held out the sonic and waved it around the room. "And dimensional disturbance too? This isn't a coincidence. Something is going on here."

Indeed, I already had a suspicion. A Crack. It had to be a Crack. And if it was a Crack...

....well, that meant something from the original Doctor's home cosmos. Going by the pattern, I mean. I strained to think of any foe or species of his that would do something like this and would leave cyan blood. Cybermen? No, they wouldn't be so picky and random with targets. Nor would Daleks.

"Doctor, please," Madoka pleaded. "I need to find them."

"And we will, Madoka, I promise," I answered. I checked the results of my screwdriver's scan and sighed. "I was hoping I could track them by scanning for unique traces of dimensional shifting, but the dimensional instabilities are making that impossible."

Sayaka looked up from a broken nightstand and the family pictures scattered around the debris. "So there has to be another way to track them. Maybe something in their blood."

I pondered that. "Perhaps." I walked around the room. "The problem is time. We could scour the entire city and lose hours trying to make even one contact, and by what you say, the wraiths are becoming an epidemic. We'll spend half of our time fighting them."

"We need more options," Liara said.

I nodded. My eyes scanned around the room yet again, allowing me to take in the others. Kyoko was... well, her usual self, while Sayaka was deep in thought. Homura was holding Madoka and trying to comfort her. Liara was watching me intently, and I met her eyes briefly. She knelt down and picked up a discarded hairbrush with strands of brown hair in it. "Is there any way of searching for them by scanning for their specific DNA?", she asked, taking one strand of hair out. "Something like that."

An idea crept into my head. "Yes," I murmured. "Something like that indeed." I smiled and clapped Liara on the shoulder. "Brilliant idea, Liara. I know just what to do. Stay here, I'll be right back." I went to the door.

"Where are you going?", Kyoko asked as I passed through it.

I looked back, smiling. "Going to get an expert," I said.



I didn't return alone.

The girls - and Liara - watched in curiosity as I showed our hired expert the evidence at hand. "I'm certain the dimensional disturbances are linked," I explained, "but the instabilities are so widespread I can't scan for them. But there are materials here you can use."

There was a nod from my compatriot. Harry Dresden, professional investigator and wizard, defender of the city of Chicago from the things that went bump in the night, surveyed the room again before kneeling over one of the droplets of cyan blood. He was in his customary black leather duster, covered as it was in protective spells and wards, and all the usual accoutrements of his trade. "Blood's dried so I can't use it. At least, not very well. But I'm definitely getting a distinct energy trace off of it. The being has magical properties of some sort. The fact they left blood means they're physical in form and not just beings of the Nevernever." His eyes narrowed. "Of course, that presumes the Nevernever can even connect to this world."

"It's... well, I'm not sure." I got close enough so that I could whisper to him, "Never had a chance to sit down with Bob and discuss the possibility," making sure that we weren't heard by Molly.

"Right." Harry looked up. "Grasshopper, what do you think?"

Molly Carpenter, Harry's apprentice in all things wizardly, was looking around the room with a subdued expression. Her clothing wasn't the usual mix of tattered jeans and tops meant to make her look like a goth girl, but rather a black shirt emblazoned with a logo for the metal group Metallica that had the midriff cut away, showing the lean ab muscle of her rather healthy build, inherited from her mother Charity. She had colored her hair dark red at the fringes but otherwise had left her natural blonde in place. I surmise that as she got older, she was becoming less interested in making her hair as colorful as possible.

Before answering, Molly reached down for something, which turned out to be a hair-dryer. She grimaced as she held it. "They were... someone was being hurt with this," she said. "And the people, the things, that did it, they enjoyed it." She reached for her head. "It's hard to describe it more. They're so different."

Harry's brow furrowed. His eyes scanned the floor where she'd lifted the device and up toward a closet. I was doing the same thing and we looked each other, not quite looking eye to eye since, well, we weren't so eager to soulgaze. "I established that Mister Kaname fought back in the garden and was wounded," I said. "And the blood up here is his, as far as I can tell."

"So they overran Dad first while Mom got their son upstairs. They took cover in the closet." Harry looked over to an intact closet door. "And the baddies brought Dad upstairs and tortured him to get Mom and Son out."

"Why would they do that?", Sayaka asked. "The closet doors aren't very strong."

I took a closer look in the closet, moving some discarded clothes out of the way. Underneath the pile a glint from the light shined, showing me what looked to be a letter opener. I held it up. "Maybe they knew Mrs. Kaname was armed. Maybe they didn't want to rush the closet and get stabbed?"

"They didn't let the first stabbing stop them," Kyoko pointed out.

"We're missing something," Harry said.

"Maybe, but that's not why you're here." Homura looked up from where she and Madoka were seated on the Kanames' bed. "The Doctor said you could track them where he couldn't."

At my nod, Liara presented the hairbrush to Harry. "I also found combs with more hair samples in them," she explained.

"Hrm. Pretty fresh. I could use them, sure." Harry looked to Molly. "Get the kit ready, padawan. We've got some thaumaturgy to do."

We all filed downstairs and went to the kitchen, where Harry and Molly quickly prepared the thaumaturgy spell that would let them track the Kanames with the hair samples.

"is this going to work?", Madoka asked. "Can he really find them?"

"Harry's good at this, been doing it for years," I answered.

There was movement from the door, and the gentle thudding of paws upon the paneled floor. Mouse entered and trotted up to Madoka. Madoka showed some surprise at seeing a dog so high that he was pretty much up to her neck. The temple dog chuffed and nuzzled her gently on the face, eliciting a surprised look from the young lady.

"I didn't think human dogs got that large," Liara said.

"A few of them do," I answered. "Tibetan mastiffs, for instance. Mouse is of a related bloodline. And he's... not entirely normal, either." I watched Harry's dog - or was Harry actually Mouse's Human? - comfort Madoka and wondered if he sensed Madoka was more than just a young girl, or even a magic practitioner. "I don't remember you being that friendly to me," I said to him.

He let out a low bark in reply. Well, retort.

"So that's your excuse? The zombies? Oi." I rolled my eyes and looked back to where Harry and Molly had finished preparations. "Ready?"

"When we're ready, you'll know," Harry grumbled at me. He watched Molly finish the last of the ritual element of the spell. A few moments after he spoke she concentrated and broke the circle of salt they'd drawn on the dining room counter. Molly held up the compass with the strands of hair tied to it. "And now we're...." Harry looked at the compass and stopped mid-sentence, frowning.

"What's wrong?", Liara asked, beating me to it.

"We did the spell right," Molly insisted. "I can feel it."

"Harry...?", I asked, letting the name roll on my tongue for a moment.

Harry sighed and put a hand to his head. "Nothing," he sighed. "It's not working."

"So you did all of that hocus pocus for nothing?", Kyoko asked, showing irritation. "We wasted all of that time?"

Harry frowned and glared at her. "The spell's active. It should be working. There should be a connection, unless...."

Even as he spoke those words that horrible possibility came to me. We looked at each other and I could see the concern in his brown eyes. He didn't need to finish the sentence.

...unless they're dead.

Liara caught on a moment later. "Goddess," she managed, looking at Madoka with sympathy.

"That's not the only possibility," I said. "There are...."

Before I could finish, Mouse's neck stiffened. He turned away from Madoka and a low growl came from his throat. Everyone looked at the temple dog as he growled and glared at someone, or something, entering the door.

The creature that entered was four-legged like Mouse. But smaller. Much smaller. White fur, red markings.... yes, you can guess who.

"What are you doing here?", Homura asked, her voice icy.

"Oh my. Such hostility, Homura Akemi." Kyubei found a nearby intact coffee table to jump up on, reducing some of the height difference. "Have we not honored our bargain with the Doctor?"

Homura didn't answer. I stepped toward the creature and asked, "What are you doing here, Kyubei?"

"We came seeking you, Doctor," Kyubei answered. "We need your help."

I nodded. "With the dimensional instabilities?"

"Indeed. We have been unable to pinpoint the focal point for the problem. We require your aid." Kyubei's voice remained child-like and calm even now. "Otherwise the entire world may be destroyed."
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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby LadyTevar » 2017-05-03 04:30pm

I'm still surprised you didn't have Dresden catch onto what caused the wounds immediately.
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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-05-03 04:46pm

LadyTevar wrote:I'm still surprised you didn't have Dresden catch onto what caused the wounds immediately.


Too many variables. After all, he's in a different cosmos at this point, there could be all sorts of beings that bleed cyan.

It's why the next update was so crucial to Harry and the SI-Doctor realizing the guilty party.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-05-03 04:55pm

In general, I try not to think things like "Like I haven't gotten enough to do". Especially since, in my line of work, I generally find that when a bigger problem comes out out of nowhere like a smaller problem, they are often related.

So I was rather sure that the disappearances in Mitakihara were related to Kyubei's ominous, entirely undetailed proclamation that the entire world might be destroyed.

Of course... this was Kyubei we were talking about. That "may" could mean anything.

"I see," I said calmly. "How?"

"There are many potential outcomes to dimensional instabilities," was the creature's reply, its innocence piled on thick with the help of that child's voice it used. "The longer they remain unchecked, the more likely something terrible will happen."

I nodded and glanced over. Molly was staring at the creature. I felt thankful Harry had already taught her so much about making bargains with other beings; at her current age she was a potential recruit under my agreement with the Incubators, and she was still young enough, idealistic enough, that Kyubei could have gotten to her otherwise.

I suppose it was unfair of me to be suspicious. The Incubators had lived up to their bargain with me. I had provided the block transfer equations to reduce universal entropy, they altered their approach to recruiting, going for older girls and ensuring they knew what they were getting into. And thus providing the world with defenders against things like the wraiths.

On the other hand... the Incubators were still utterly amoral entities. There were few limits to what they could do if they thought it within their interest and it did not contradict any prior agreements.

Harry gave me a look. There was a glint of recognition in his eye. He had never met the Incubators before, but he had dealt with Faeries enough to know when someone's avoiding giving a direct answer because they didn't want to admit to the truth. I gave him a slight nod and looked back to Kyubei. "You don't know," i said. "This is something beyond your knowledge. You're just afraid of the consequences of it and want to get me involved."

"We have a reasonable concern, Doctor," the Incubator drone answered innocently.

I tried not to roll my eyes. "I'll look into it," I said. "As soon as I find the Kanames and the source of the other disappearances. Now, if you'll excuse us, we have some work to do."

"Please do not take too long, Doctor," was the reply I got before the creature slinked away. Mouse went to the door, as if to ensure himself that the drone was truly departing.

When he was gone, I heard Harry sigh. "Flipping faerie wannabe," he grumbled.

"So... what are we going to do now?", Madoka asked me, looking very much like she was ready to cry. "Please, I have to find them...!"

"We will," I assured her. "Since we can't track them, we'll have to hunt down one of these things."

Homura asked the obvious question. "How do you intend to do that?"

I looked to Harry. "Harry, that blood...."

"....it's dry and old, I can't do much with it," Harry answered.

"What about the magic signature you found on it?", I asked. "Can you look for that?"

For a moment he was in deep thought. Why, i could even then see the gears grinding together in his head.

Sorry, had to fill my quota concerning Harry's thinking process, I won't make another joke about it.

Probably.

Finally he let out a breath. "I can't promise anything," he said. "But we can try."

"Good. Now, unless we find a van along the way... I think we'll be going on foot."

"Story of my life," Harry sighed.

I didn't answer. At that moment, I really missed Korra and her Earthbending....




We got two blocks before the wraiths came after us.

Maybe they were sensing Madoka's feelings. Maybe they just fed on the despair and fear. Whatever it was, they erupted from the ground around us and attacked.

"Kyoko and I will take the front," Sayaka said, brandishing her sword. She looked to Homura and Madoka, who were reaching for their bows. "Mister Dresden, can you..."

It occurred to me that only Mami had really seen Harry in action before; Homura had only briefly observed him so long ago at the Southern Air Temple. So they had little idea on just what Harry could do.

Harry had his blasting rod up and ready. "Fuego!" A lance of golden fire erupted from the tip and blasted cleanly through the nearest wraith. Behind him Molly.... well, Molly didn't do much, but she wasn't a combat wizard type.

Liara swept a hand out and a bolt of biotic energy struck another wraith, sending it flying back. I reached for the sonic disruptor and started cycling through settings, trying to disrupt them. I could see the flashes of pink and purple light to my side. Madoka and Homura had shifted into their business attire as well and started putting energy arrows into the onrushing crowd. Mouse plowed into the first one that got too close to them and jumped onto the next. Two hundred pounds of canine brought the dark being down easily.

And it was becoming a crowd. Harry's shield bracelet went up and a half dome of blue light caught a wraith strike coming for his head. A second wraith went for his weak side and I caught it with the deflector setting of my sonic. He cried out one of his pseudo-Latin spell phrases and a burst of force threw the wraith back and into a nearby house. It disintegrated into shadow.

I briefly checked our front again. Kyoko did a somersaulting leap over one and drove her spear into its back. As it disintegrated more came for her from the rear and Sayaka intercepted them, severing the hand from one before parrying a flurry of blows. The two stood back to back, switching between offense and defense as needed, but could make no headway.

"We need a new plan," Liara said. "Maybe I can generate a field around us long enough to get free."

"Too many of them," I responded. I looked to Molly and threw her an item I'd procured from the Kaname household. She caught it wordlessly and nodded. A moment later, she disappeared.

"Everyone back up!", Harry shouted. "We're going to get strung out!"

"He's right." Sayaka took Kyoko's arm and pulled her back toward us. Once everyone was close enough Liara gave us a biotic dome to stand within. She grunted with effort as blows started raining down upon it.

"This isn't going to work," Homura said. "We need a new plan."

"Actually, we just need enough time for Molly to finish," I said "Any moment...."

Beyond the wraith trying to assault us, I could see Molly reappear. She pricked her finger, brought forth a droplet of blood, and set it into the salt at her feet.

The salt she had drawn in a perfect circle around us and the wraith.

With my Time Lord senses I could feel the shift in the air's energy as the circle cut off the ambient energy outside of it. The wraith.... froze. Froze in their places like they'd just been put into stasis. Or, rather, cut off from the energy around us.

Still, they didn't disintegrate, and if they found more power they could be a threat. The four girls went to work on the helpless enemy, shooting and slashing and stabbing their way through them. Harry took in a breath and looked at me. "When you mentioned phages, you weren't quite clear on how nasty they were."

"I was very clear," I retorted. "But let's face it, Harry, they're not that much compared to nastier things we've run into in our careers."

"Yeah, well, even the little things can still take your head off," he pointed out. He looked to where Molly was standing outside the circle, taking care not to break it. "Nice work Grasshopper," he said.

She nodded. "Thanks boss."

"Why aren't there more of them?", Liara wondered aloud.

"Probably not enough negative emotional energy in the area for them," Harry said. "They tapped it all out. It takes time for it to rebuild. Of course..." He sighed. "That means we'll get this over and over as we enter areas that have the energy they need to form. I don't think going on foot's the answer."

"A veil?"

"The veil could mess with the tracking spell," Harry said. "Especially since the link is so vague."

I bit into my lip and looked around. The garden park was giving way to a parking lot near one of Mitakihara's commercial wards. I spied the mostly empty lot and found what I was looking for. "Then, I think we need a change in transportation," I said to the others.




"I have reservations about this," Harry said indignantly.

"We know, Harry," Liara sighed.

"Seriously. Massive reservations. This just feels... wrong."

"We know, Harry," I repeated, exchanging a look with Liara from our places in the middle seats.

Harry glowered at us and directed a look to the front seat from his place in the rear of the van, where Molly was beside him. There was a Japanese woman at the wheel, young, pretty, barely tall enough to drive the van.

If I looked really hard, I could see the image fade and Homura sitting underneath it, seated forward so she could reach the pedals with the help of the long extensions fixed to her feet.

"She's what, twelve?", Harry continued. "It really should be me or Molly at the wheel."

"Liara doesn't know how to drive 21st Century Earth vehicles," I said. "You need me to keep the dampening field active so your active magic doesn't break the van." I needn't have pointed to my sonic, directed at the back of the van where Harry and Molly were sitting. "Which is why neither of you can drive either."

"He's got you there, boss," Molly said.

"Besides, how familiar are you with Japanese traffic laws?", Homura asked. "And how much do you know about the city's roads?"

Harry made that look he always gets when someone points out he's wrong and he knows it.

From my point in the rear middle seat I watched as Harry worked the tracking spell while Molly maintained the illusion over Homura, lest we get Mitakihara police curious. Liara had joined the others, minus the distracted Madoka, on wraith watch duties, seated in the forward middle seat with Sayaka while Kyoko was beside me. Madoka was in the front passenger seat with Mouse having somehow wedged himself into position between Sayaka and Liara so that Madoka could rest her hand on his head. "How many so far?", Sayaka asked from the forward middle seat's right side..

"A couple tried to attack," Kyoko answered from the rear middle's left. "But Homura's moving too quickly for them."

There was quiet coming from the passenger side front seat. Madoka was withdrawn, not at all her usual self, barely seeming to be capable of even the simple act of stroking the leonine hair around Mouse's head and neck. "They're not dead, are they?", she finally asked. Her gentle voice was tremoring with fear. "Because you couldn't find them with your tracking magic. That means they could be dead, right?"

"Not at all, kid," Harry said, his tone meant to be reassuring. "They could be behind defensive wards that blocked my spell. Or they could be in the Nevernever or something like it."

"Are you sure? Are you sure we can get them back?"

For a moment, I could see Harry was hesitant. He didn't want to give false hope. But the silence didn't last, and his question was answered by another voice. "Yeah," Molly said. "He's sure. That's what we do. Right boss?"

Harry showed no aggravation at Molly answering for him. "Right, Grasshopper," he said. "We'll get them back." There was a bit of cynic skepticism in his eyes, but Harry bit it down. He understood the importance of keeping morale up.

"Whatever has happened, Madoka, we'll get your family back," Homura said, as if she wasn't having to pay attention to the road. "I promise you that."

The reply was a little sniffle and a nod.

There are beings who believe power is only real purpose of life. Madoka sat in quiet rejection to that. She had Power and lots of it. But against the love of her family, that power meant nothing.

"She's got a lot of power," Harry murmured to me, keeping his tone quiet. "A freaking lot."

"Yes," I said. "But also, well... it's sort of complicated, but suffice to say she's the physical manifestation of a much larger being. At least, that's how I think it works. Quantum synergy can be a pain to guess sometimes."

"So with that much power, she should be able to wipe the floor with those wraith things," Harry continued. "I mean, Doc, when I'm talking power here, I mean Power."

"I'm not how much of it she can access without risking her physical body. I would have to..."

We were interrupted by the sound of the a cell phone ringing. Sayaka shifted in her seat and pulled one out. "It's Hitomi," she said for our benefit. She answered the phone.

There were whispered replies from the other end. "Wait, Hitomi...? Hitomi, calm down," she said, and as Sayaka spoke the tension in the van spiked. "Hitomi, what do you mean...." Sayaka's eyes widened. "They're there?! At Kyosuke's house?!"

Nothing more had to be said. Homura hit the gas pedal and the van accelerated.




The Kamijo family home was larger than the Kaname one, found in a residential distrct in the same corner of the city. We arrived and began pouring out of the van. I immediately felt the chill in the air.

The first wraith started to form and was struck down by a slash from Sayaka's saber. The other girls took up formation and with time-worn practice set into the ones assembling in front of us. Behind us.... well, that was left to the rest of us. I gripped the sonics and checked them. I still lacked the kind of data that would let my sonic devices deal quickly with them. What I could do was provide some brute power to the more sophisticated magic and biotic attacks from Harry and Liara.

Harry waved his staff around and let out a cry of "Gravitas" that I'd never really heard him use before. But I knew what it was; for a brief moment we all got a little lighter as the gravity around us was siphoned away... and turned into an invisible sledgehammer that crushed one wraith outright. Harry repeated the steps twice before switching to fire magic.

Liara jumped back to avoid an attack and sent a biotic bolt into her attacker. Crackling blue energy formed around her figure as she summoned her biotic power and unleashed it in a series of attacks upon the wraiths. Two fell apart from the power of her warp fields and another was broken by the impact into a nearby street lamp from a biotic burst. This opened her up to a third, but Mouse was on top of it before it could strike, bearing the creature down and dispersing it. Hints of white-blue energy, like St. Elmo's Fire, formed around him as he tangled with the creatures.

Honestly, at that point I felt... rather boring. Sure, kinetic blasts from the disruptor and all, but there was no style to it. Nothing interesting. It had nothing to Liara wielding dark matter energy or Harry's control of the fundamental forces of creation.

This battle lasted all of thirty seconds before the wraiths were gone. "They must not have the energy to hit us with numbers here," Liara said.

"Nothing but a distraction," Homura said, and she and Sayaka took the lead in dashing into the Kamijo home.

I pondered that. I suspected Homura meant that it was a literal distraction, i.e., something that distracts. But what if it was an intentional one? Could these kidnappers have found a way to direct the wraiths? It would, I realized, make for a great way of keeping the Mitakihara girls off their trail. Homura had even said wraiths kept interfering with her attempts to track the unknown abductors.

"I don't know about you," Harry began, "but I'm starting to get the feeling that these wraith things are the bad guys' Han Solo, running at us and screaming to keep our attention."

"I know what you mean," I answered. "After you?"

"You realize that if Molly and I enter uninvited, the threshold's going to make our magic unworkable," Harry pointed out.

Ah, yes. A good point. There were few worlds I'd found where thresholds didn't exist, or rather, didn't have potential power over beings who had to operate with them as rules. And it was best to make sure of things before we risked their powers being dampened, even temporarily. "Alright. I'll be right back."

And so I entered.

The Kajimos were well off. Their home looked elegant. Nice. Except for the smashed coffee table, anyway. The broken display. Someone had fought back. Unfortunately, nobody had used a pointed object to draw blood we could use.

Ultimately, though, we had something better,, as Mouse confirmed when he barked and bounded off toward one hall. A check of my sonic screwdriver confirmed what he'd found; a lifesign.

Using the sonic I followed the halls of the house to said bedroom. The master bedroom by the look of things, for the adults of the house, and they would be displeased by how ruined it was. Liara filed in behind me and I felt the subtle thrum of her biotics make the hairs on my neck prickle from the proximity. I walked up toward a large wardrobe It was an old-looking but modern one, wood-paneled with stainless steel for the hinges and handles. Even the frame was made of stainless steel to support the wood. I gently touched the handle while, behind me, Sayaka and Homura entered the room, weapons readied. The other girls arrived after them and made the room a bit crowded with all of the weapons present. I motioned to inquire if they were ready.

They nodded.

And so... I acted.

When I yanked the door open I was answered by a scream of terror. The girls all lowered their weapons. "Hitomi?", Madoka asked.

The young brown-haired lady stumbled out, wearing a pink blouse and light green pants. I could see her eyes were fully dilated and full of... mortal terror. "Please don't take me!", she screamed at me and Liara. "Please!"

"Hitomi!" Sayaka stepped forward and took her friend, giving her a gentle shake. "It's okay! They're friends."

"Say... Sayaka...?" HItomi blinked and tried to get the tears from her eyes. "What... what's going on?"

"We're hunting the things that took Madoka's family," Sayaka replied. "They must have attacked you." Her eyes froze. "Kyosuke... was he...?"

"They took him. They took them all," Hitomi wailed. "I... I couldn't... I just ran. I hid! They...."

It was clear Hitomi was too frightened to fully explain, but it was fairly obvious as it was. Liara knelt beside her and put a hand on her shoulder. "We're here to help," she said. "It's okay."

"Help....?", Hitomi asked.

"Hitomi, this is important." Homura knelt beside her. "Why didn't they take you? Were you able to hide from them?"

"I... I... I don't know," Hitomi stammered. "I-I th-thought they f-found me, but they di-didn't open the door. They screamed things, I-I co-couldn't understand them."

"You made them angry," I noted. "Did they try to use Kyosuke or his parents to force you to leave your hiding space?"

"I.. I don't th-th-ink so," she said. "They shouted a lot and left."

"How long ago?", I asked.

"I-I'm not sure."

I breathed in a small sigh at that. They must have cleared out when they realized we were coming. That's why they left HItomi. But why couldn't they have gotten into the wardrobe? They were strong enough, certainly. They could have grabbed the doors and yanked them off.

"Where's Harry?", Kyoko asked.

"He and Molly are guarding the van," I answered. "Unless someone who lives in the house, like Hitomi, invites them in, their magic is strictly limited by the threshold of the house."

"We're going to need them."

"N-Need who?", Hitomi asked.

"Don't worry about it," Sayaka said to her, trying to reassure. "Come with me to the front door, it'll be quick."

I remained in thought while they were gone. Hitomi seemed to be barely functioning. She could never have escaped a renewed pursuit. In fact, she shouldn't have gotten away. Hiding shouldn't have worked, just as it didn't for Junko Kaname.

I started from the basic facts again. They were hurt by the garden shears wielded by Madoka's father. They feared her mother's metal opener such that instead of rushing her, they tortured her husband until she surrendered. They had inherent magic but weren't entirely beings of the Nevernever or a similar realm, as they left cyan blood. And here, they hadn't even tried to get into the wardrobe to get at Hitomi.

And all the while, all with their rampage of kidnappings, dimensional instability in Mitakihara had formed to the extent it had the Incubators frightened.

Why?

What was I missing?

I looked over the wardrobe again. It was the key. Why hadn't they forced open the wardrobe? It wasn't a safe. It was made of wood paneling and stainless steel fittings and framing. It wasn't like....

My mind stopped on that fact. "Of course," I muttered.

My gut twisted as all of the facts linked up in my head. if I was right... this threat was something the magical girls had never seen before. It was a threat I'd never faced before, in fact. And the stakes... the stakes were ever higher now.

Sayaka returned with Hitomi, Harry and Molly behind them. "So, where were you hiding, Hitomi?", Harry asked. "It might help us find out..." He turned his head toward me in mid-sentence and stopped as his eyes met mine and then went back to the open wardrobe. The open wardrobe with its stainless steel handles.

Our eyes nearly met again and I saw realization come to his face. Harry was, despite all humor to the contrary, quite good at putting the pieces together once he had critical facts. He had just noticed the detail I had. Faster than I had, really. It was part and parcel of his occupation.

The abductors had feared Junko Kaname's letter opener. They had refused to even touch the wardrobe Hitomi had hidden in. They had been wounded by garden shears and nothing else.

All of these things had one thing in common.

We both said the same word aloud, at the same time, in that fun way that drama sometimes plays out.

"Iron."

Molly gasped in realization. The others, and Liara, looked understandably confused. "Iron?", Kyoko asked. "What do you mean?"

"Hitomi," I began, stepping up toward her. "What did the attackers look like? Did you see them?"

She nodded and swallowed tightly. "Y-yes..."

"And...?"

"I... I-I couldn't qu-quite see them. They... their faces... their heads... they kept... flickering, changing, something," Hitomi began, and those words made my stomach twist harder in very reasonable apprehension. "They'd go solid though. And they looked... they looked..." She had trouble forcing the adjective she was trying to use. As it she knew it was wrong. "....beautiful."

My jaw tightened. That confirmed it. That confirmed... everything.

"You know, don't you?", Homura asked me. "You know who's responsible."

"Yes," i said. "And it's very bad news. We don't have much time if we're going to save the Kajimos and the Kanames. And this may be the most dangerous thing any of you girls has ever done."

"Woh." Kyoko looked at me in surprise. "You're... you're serious."

"Yes," I said. I swallowed.

"Then... who are they?", Sayaka asked.

I answered in one word. Just one. One that many people would never have understood the horror of, not unless they met the beings in question, the beings that personified the original meaning of this terrifying name.

"Elves."




I anticipated the initial response.

"Elves?" Kyoko looked utterly mystified. "You mean people with long ears that prance around in forests?"

"These aren't your standard Tolkein elves," Harry said. "They're nightmares."

"They're beings from a parasite dimension," I explained. "They attach to worlds like this one and steal things, people, for their own use. Artists, performers, musicians..." Which certainly explained Kyosuke. "...and children. As many people as they want, really. They're creatively sterile and rely on other species to provide them entertainment."

Kyoko looked perplexed by that. "So you're saying they took Kyosuke to hear him play?"

"Until he falls dead from exhaustion, probably," Harry answered.

I nodded. "The Elves have absolutely no mercy or empathy, and they revel in every kind nof cruelty. These are beings who would slowly gut baby rabbits as a mild entertainment."

"And they have my family?", Madoka asked, horrified. "But... why? My parents aren't musicians."

"Oh, plenty of reasons," I said. "Possibly because your father stabbed one. Or because they thought it would be amusing. The Elves do this all the time. They take things. Beings, memories, things, whatever they can get their hands on." I sighed. "This explains the dimensional disturbances that Kyubei is so worried about. It's the break between dimensions the Elves are using."

"So we find them and we stop them," Kyoko said. "Simple."

"Not so simple," I answered. "Odds are they've taken their captives into their dimension. The Queen's World." I scowled. "It's a nasty little place, full of distorted space-time and various creatures that pose a threat to any of us. Dromes that can seal us in dream states forever, that sort of thing."

"But we have to do something," Sayaka insisted. "We need to rescue those people!"

I drew in another sigh and looked to Harry. The expression on his face made it clear he knew how dangerous this was. But I could also see that quintessential stubborness of the man coming in. Harry... did not like leaving people to monsters. And he was almost physically incapable of avoiding fights with things bigger and nastier than him if it meant helping rescue people from monsters or otherwise thwarting those monsters. I knew I needn't ask if he was on board for this.

"I agree," Liara said, looking at me intently. "We promised to help. We should see it through to the end."

At that, I nodded. This was one reason I got along with Harry so well. We had similar thoughts on what to do with monsters who preyed upon people. "Right. Okay." I put my hands together. "This won't be easy. We're going to need everyone. Does someone have Miss Tomoe's number?"

"If we all go, who will fight the wraiths?", Kyoko asked.

"For the moment? No one," I conceded. "Can't be avoided. The Elves will demand all of our attention just to get through their realm safely."

The girls looked at each other nervously. This was their city. They worked hard to protect it. Leaving it to the tender mercies of the wraiths, especially since they'd become so prevalent... I could understand their reluctance. And I couldn't bring myself to warn them about the time dilation issues. It was entirely possible that we could be in the World of the Elves for hours on our end but weeks, even years, compared to Mitakihara. I wasn't sure they'd commit to this excursion if they knew that.

Unfortunately, it was also rather necessary for them to do so. Otherwise I wasn't sure we could make this work.

Sayaka let out an exasperated breath and reached for her cell phone. "I'm calling Mami now."

I nodded. "So now we need to find where the crossover point is. It'll be at the epicenter of the dimensional disturbances, that I'm sure of."

"Unless they have more than one," Harry pointed out.

I sighed at that. "Yes. Unless there's multiple ones. Then we've really got our work cut out for us."

"Grasshopper." Harry looked back to Molly. "Make sure you get the hairs. We're going to need to make another tracking spell. Fast and ugly. We don't have much time before these things get their captives back to their home dimension."

"Right boss." Molly headed off.

"If any of you can get a feel for what kind of energy these things give off, I could use your help," Harry continued. "Because we need to have alternative tracking methods ready, and ready now."

"We need magnets," i said. "The Elves' weakness to iron has to do with their senses relying on electro-magnetic fields. Iron distorts the fields they use, and magnets heighten the effect."

From that point everyone dispersed to begin preparations. Everyone save Madoka, who had knelt beside where Hitomi was crying in terror and fear. "It'll be okay," she said quietly, putting her hand on Hitomi's shoulder. The gesture escalated to a full supporting hug as Hitomi continued to weep. "We'll get them back."

I said nothing to interrupt them. Leave it to Madoka to ignore her own fears and worries to comfort a friend over her's.

Instead I turned my mind to planning. The Elves. Quite a nasty opponent to deal with. And we had to go into the heart of their territory. We would have to face the Queen herself and who knew how many elves and other creatures. This would be Dangerous with a capital Danger.

But not impossible. Indeed, not. Especially if I made some... arrangements.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out the TARDIS remote, summoning my TARDIS. Hitomi let out a bewildered gasp from where she was being held by Madoka. Madoka turned and watched the TARDIS finish materializing. "Doctor, what are you doing?"

"I'm going to make some additional arrangements," I replied. "I'll be back in a second. Literally."

Well, okay, it turned out to be something closer to ten seconds. I blame the dimensional instabilities instead of forgetting to carry the four. Honestly.

Molly had joined Madoka and Hitomi when I stepped out of the TARDIS. "Uh, where'd you go?", she asked with youthful curiosity. "Is something wrong?"

I smiled and shook my head. "No. No, not at all. But I need a couple of things from you, Molly."

She blinked. "Oh?"

"Did you get Harry what he needed?"

"Uh, yeah. Yeah. He's finishing up the spell right now."

I nodded. "Good. So I need you to follow me. First, we need to escort Hitomi into one of the bedrooms in the TARDIS," I said. "It's the safest place for her."

"Right." Molly nodded. "And then..."

"And then..." I looked around and decided it was best to be cautious. "Let's get Hitomi in first." I looked over to Madoka and Hitomi. "Madoka, please let the others know I'm going to be busy with Molly for a moment. I'll be out in a few minutes."

"Okay," she answered.

Molly carefully helped the younger girl up and led Hitomi into the TARDIS. I came up behind her and closed the door.

When we were done we emerged from the TARDIS and found everyone ready. "Saddle up, everyone," Harry said, holding up his compass. "Tracking spell is ready, but we'd better get going, now."




We arrived in one of the parks near Mitakihara's residential wards when the tracking spell went dead. "Crap," Harry growled. "I was still fixing a position."

"One moment." I took the sonic screwdriver in my spare hand and scanned the area with it. "Dimensional instabilities are quite a bit higher here. I think I can triangulate.... pull over there, Homura."

There was no verbal affirmation. The van pulled to the side and we piled out. I scanned again and checked the results. "We're close," I said. "No more than five hundred yards somewhere along here..." I found a path leading into the park.

Everyone prepared themselves and we set off down a walkway flanked by trees and flower beds. It was very scenic, but there was an energy in the air that was unsettling. For me, it was probably my time lord senses telling me about how the energy of this place was off. Wrong. All from the dimensional instability.

And I knew why we had it. The dimensional instability meant that the barriers between the dimensions were weakening further. Soon it was possible that entire portions of this world would be subsumed into the Queen's World, along with any hapless souls caught within. Closing it would mean more than spraying a rift with energy from the Time Vortex like it was a Crack. The Queen's power was settling in here. It had to be stopped. Resisted. Resisted by someone who could claim this place as his or her own.

Her own, in this case. But we had to straighten things out first before we got to that step.

I felt the negative energy in the air as the wraiths began to form again. The others fell upon them so quickly Harry never bothered to join in. I returned my attention to the sonic screwdriver.

The hairs on my neck stood on end suddenly and I saw Liara look over to me and widen her eyes. She was starting to shout at me to look out. I was already moving as she did.

Which is why I didn't get my head ripped off by the beast that leapt through the air beside me.

They came from the trees on both flanks, rushing in with teeth glistening and claws ready to rip us to pieces. Harry saw them coming just in the nick of time to catch the one bounding for him with his magic shield. Liara's quick thinking gave her the defense of a biotic barrier and Mouse intercepted and knocked over the one that had aimed for Molly.

Homura spun in place toward the one rushing her. An energy arrow formed in her bow and she let it loose just before the grimhound would have hit her. The energy arrow pierced the beast's steel-fanged mouth and went through its skull, sending it dead to the ground. She twisted in time to catch the one coming for Madoka, who was trying to protect Sayaka and Kyoko.

Four grimhounds had attacked the two girls at the front of our formation, ripping in past the retreating wraiths with bloodthirsty ferocity. I had the time to catch a sight of one's claws ripping into Sayaka's arm as she moved to keep Kyoko's flank safe. Sparks erupted from where her saber deflected the blow and kept the claw that hadn't ripped the flesh of her right arm from slicing into Kyoko's weak side. Kyoko pivoted on a foot and struck her lance out, skewering the beast. She made an evasive jump that threw the strike of another off. She landed on its back and brought her lance point into its spine.

Sayaka's healing power was already repairing her arm as she dodged two quick attempts by another beast to disembowel her. The beast, in its eagerness to rip her throat out, stuck his head out too far. Sayaka sidestepped him and brought her saber down. The beast's body rolled to the ground. Its head rolled the other way, the fire in its eyes dying out.

"Doctor!"

Molly's shout of warning saved my life. I had been focused on checking on the girls and reaching for my sonic and hadn't realized my initial attacker had picked himself up and was coming at me again. I barely got the sonic disruptor in time to deflect the blow with a forcefield.

"What are these things?!", Kyoko shouted.

"Grimhounds!", I answered. "They're the Queen's personal hounds! She must have sent them after us!" I used the disruptor to absorb another blow from the grimhound facing me. His eyes blazed orange, containing a literal fire within them that looked hungry. No, not just hungry, ravenous. He wanted to flay the skin from my bones. He lunged once more and it was all I could do to keep him off me, using the protective dome emitted by my sonic disruptor like it was a shield. I just needed an extra moment to get my sonic screwdriver up and set to the right frequency.

Movement flashed across the right side of my vision. A second grimhound had slipped past the battle and came up on my right side, at an angle that would carry the beast to the side of my shield and let its steel claws and fangs rip into me. I had to jump away.

I wasn't fast enough.

Steel razor blades ripped into my right side, just below my ribs, and if I had been just a second slower the blow might well have disemboweled me completely. As it was, pain shot through my body as blood and flesh was torn away by the glancing blow. I let out an involuntary cry of surprise and anguish followed by an undignified grunt as I hit the ground right on my back. Both of the beasts that had set upon me leapt for the kill. I got the sonic disruptor up in time to keep them off me. But I had to get to my feet and I couldn't. They would attack from both directions the next time and I would go down.

Madoka's arrows pierced the first one a moment later, even as it recoiled from the deflector field of my disruptor. It howled in anger and savage pain and, half-mad with pain, turned to Madoka to begin attacking her. But the beast's change in target ruined its coordination with its fellow. The two grimhounds collided in midair and fell over, angry yelps coming from them as they fell in a tangle of dark fair.

I had the second I needed. I held the sonic screwdriver up and it whirred to life. I barely heard it. But the grimhounds... they did.

The hounds screamed in fury and pain and their attack lost all cohesion. One that had been trying to bite at Kyoko through her lance - held in both hands like a stick to ward off the steel teeth of the beast - let go and fell back in agony, leaving it open to a thrust to the torso by Kyoko. Sayaka's opponents, who had reduced her cloak to shreds and cut bloody gashes into her legs and arms and belly, were killed almost immediately by the expert strokes of her saber. Homura shot two more of the creatures as they fled.

They weren't the only ones howling, though. Mouse was on his belly, paws over his head, howling in utter agony. As soon as I noticed that I turned the screwdriver off. Harry went to his dog's side for the moment, checking him for wounds.

Liara came to me. "Oh Goddess," she said, her voice hoarse with concern. She reached into the first aid material she kept in her pouch and brought out medigel and bandages for the bloody wounds along the right side of my torso. "You're lucky they didn't cut deeper," she said.

"Possibly," I conceded.

"How is everyone?", Harry called out. "Grasshopper?"

"I'm okay!", Molly responded, reappearing from behind a veil. I wouldn't have been surprised if it had worked even on the grimhounds.

"I'll be okay," Sayaka added. Those little musical note wheels appeared over the wounds she'd sustained and soon her skin was uncut once again.

"We should keep moving," Homura urged. "The longer we wait, the more time the enemy has to..."

The wraiths came upon us with a vengeance, reappearing from the ground as if they had been waiting for just that moment. Kyoko had to parry a blow for Sayaka as she finished recovering. Homura and Madoka did hops to escape attacks on them and frantically returned fire. The wraith that formed over me put a meaty fist down on the protective biotic dome Liara summoned with her power. Harry summoned his magic shield again to guard his disorientated dog. "We need to move together!", he shouted, his new Warden experiences helping undoubtedly in giving Harry an idea of what had to be done. "Fall back on...."

There was the sound of a gunshot. A lot of gunshots. Two wraiths, including the one over me, took hits from what looked to be energy shots of some sort and they fell off, disintegrating.

A small figure darted into our midst, blowing on a horn and screaming a combination of cheese names. I recognized her. The youngest of the Mitakihara magical girls: Nagisa. The cheese-lover. The magic bubbles and such from her weapon struck foes and sent them flying in small bursts of energy.

Flipping over our heads, Mami Tomoe landed in the middle of the wraiths and in a movement of her hand dropped a host of rifles from nothingness, as if she'd been hiding them under her modest skirt. She picked up the guns and started to spin, blasting the wraiths around us in a constant movement until she had exhausted her supply of shots and had to generate more.

The flood of positive emotion at seeing reinforcements lifted our spirits and, undoubtedly, deprived the wraiths of the fuel of our negative emotions. They began to retreat as their numbers dwindled. Kyoko, naturally, made sure their numbers dwindled further as they retreated.

With the fight well and truly over Liara turned her attention back to my wound. She pulled my bloodied dress shirt up and resumed treating the wounds "Bloody hell," I growled. "These suits don't grow on trees."

"No, they just grow out of replicators," Liara remarked drolly. "Or wherever else you want to get them free of charge."

I eyed her irritably, but said nothing as she finished bandaging my wound. Harry and Molly tended to Mouse and the magical girls gathered near us. Homura and Sayaka took turns filling in the bits of the story, and what was going on, that they hadn't managed on the phone.

"Elves." Mami looked around thoughtfully. "I have heard of the older stories of them. i hate to leave the city unguarded, but the Doctor's right about needing all of us."

Liara helped me back to my feet. I checked my sonics and brought the sonic screwdriver up. "Yes. The Queen's starting to cross her world over. Soon much of the surrounding area could be absorbed into her realm. We have to go faster and find the opening between the worlds."

There were nods and we continued on.




Not all dimensional doors have fancy special effects. This one didn't.

In fact, it wasn't visible at all.

There was, along the park, a bridge with a walkway underneath for a different walking path. As we approached, a couple of sparrows or some other bird decided to use the underpass instead of flying over the bridge.

They took about two seconds longer than they should have.

"There we are," I muttered. I followed the trail to the lower path and to under the bridge with everyone behind me. My sonic screwdriver was giving me the strongest signs of instability I'd yet to find here. And the energy in the air felt wrong.

"Yes, this is it," I said. I looked back to the others. "The door is here."

"I don't see anything," Kyoko protested.

"You wouldn't," I said. It's not something you see, it's something you feel. The prickly cold, the energies of the pathway between worlds. I would think your enhanced senses could feel it?"

"They can," Homura confirmed, going past me and up to the entranceway. "Are we ready to begin?"

There were nods from the other girls, but Harry, Molly, and Liara didn't react. "I would feel better, Doctor, if we used a full medical kit on your wounds," Liara said.

"No time." I ignored the remaining pain in my sight. "We have work to finish. This... this is the most dangerous part. There are all sorts of creatures on the other end that we could face. The grimhounds are very much the least of them."

"We understand," Sayaka answered me.

"We should get going." Homura stepped past me.

"Hold it," Harry said. "First things first." He took out a small container that looked like it was used for cosmetics. Hair gel, perhaps. He opened it up and the smell coming from it was... not entirely pleasant. He dabbed his thumb in and smeared some of it below his eyes. "This should help us with any glamours the elves throw at us," he explained, holding the container up. "Make sure you put some on."

Homura stepped up and accepted the anti-glamour gunk first. She nodded after using it and returned to the doorway. I could feel her concentrate and then.... with a step, she disappeared.

"Are you sure you're ready for this, Molly?", Harry asked her.

"Actually..."

As she told him what I had asked her to do, or at least the basic element of it, I used my remote the summon the TARDIS. Harry looked from me to Molly and then nodded. "Good idea, Grasshopper," he said. "You keep our escape route safe. Keep Mouse with you. He'll need the time to get his hearing back anyway."

"Right, boss." Molly walked into the TARDIS and stood at the door, inviting Mouse in with her. Mouse chuffed and shambled in.. A moment later the TARDIS vanished from view.

I looked at Harry apologetically as he handed the container to Mami. "I'm sorry, I was being presumptuous," I said.

"Yeah," he answered, but the irritation I saw wasn't strong. I had merely done what he already intended to do. Molly... was not ready. She was still too sensitive to the psychic stresses of combat. Still too overconfident from her relative youth. "Well." He sighed. "Time for mischief in Elfland." He walked up and into the portal, flanked by Mami and Sayaka.

While Kyoko applied the stuff to her face, grumbling about it in the process, I looked back to where Molly was hiding the TARDIS, gave her a smile, and turned to Liara. "Would you like to...?"

Before I could finish, Liara flashed me one of her irritated looks.

"Thought so," I breathed. And then I winced, because my side hurt a bit more. Liara's work on the bandages was good enough to keep me from bleeding further, but I had to be careful about falling or running or anything strenuous, or I risked compromising the bandages, and I would begin to bleed again. At least until my advanced TIme Lord healing finished with the wounds, anyway.

Liara waited for Madoka to use the anti-glamour material before she put on her portion. I put some on, sniffed in indifference to the odor, and tossed the container back into the invisible TARDIS. Molly was good; I didn't hear it land. Hopefully she caught it.

Well, there was nothing more to be done. I swallowed, took in a breath, and stepped into Fairyland.

Now, you hear Fairyland, and you think bright meadows and frolicking fairies and all sorts of nice, summer-y things, right?

You'd be wrong.

Snow crunched beneath my feet and a cold wind pricked at my face. The vista was white. White with dark for the trees a bit further ahead. Small trees abounded here and there around us.

The trick was they weren't real. Close up, they did look real, but further away their forms fudged into almost shapeless blobs. As if the world could only be real in our vicinity. And the horizon. It looked off. Close enough to touch, maybe. Like we were on a world drawn on a paper by someone without much imagination.

There were footprints still visible in the snow. Some looked like they had been dragged. And they led toward a dark forest of half-formed trees in the distance.

Harry pulled his compass out of his pocket. The tracking spell was active again. He frowned. "Oh, not good," he said. "This place is messing with the tracking spell. It's too... off, I guess."

"We'll follow the prints," Homura said.

"We might need to be careful about..."

Before I could finish, there was a laugh around us. "Oh, foolish children!", a woman's voice called out. "What do you hope to accomplish?"

We all started looking around. "There she is," Nagisa called out, and we turned with her to face the Queen of the Elves.

She was riding on a resplendent horse of white color but with pitch black eyes. The Queen was dressed in red and black finery, her black hair long and flowing, her pale skin luscious, lips a bright cherry red, and her eyes turning a fine green as she looked at all of us. "Did you come to join me? To leave behind a world where you can do nothing but fight? I will understand. I will welcome you into my arms, and you can be happy and content."

I felt... my mind stir. The Queen's words were enchanted. They made the listener think they were right simply because they came from her. She was always right. She was the Queen. Lowly humans, mortals, they should nod and smile and obey, because she is the superior being.

"Give me my family back!", Madoka demanded. "And all of the people of my city!"

"Such insolence!", the Queen declared. Her eyes narrowed as she took in the sight of the girls. "Must you come and misbehave, girls? Will you reject my kind offers? It must be because of that detestable little vermin creature that used you. Yes. He's made you suspicious of me." The Queen's smile became warm. Falsely so. "You can be here with your family, Madoka. You can live forever at my court. Your family will never know worry with me. Your brother will always laugh and be happy." She moved her head toward us. "And you, gentlemen? Surely you..."

She stopped speaking. "You," she said, her tone growing colder. "You are together, aren't you?"

"Woh, lady, I think you've got us all wrong," Harry responded, a slight grin on his face. "The Doc and I are good buddies, that's it. He's not my type. Not pretty enough."

Ah, Harry. As usual, he can't help himself. "Always with the wisearse banter in front of the super-powerful beings, Dresden?", I asked drolly.

The Queen's expression was growing colder than the air around us. "Do not deceive me!", she thundered, and the earth shuddered beneath us. "I smell the power upon you! Upon you both! You have been sent to stand against me, to interfere with my rightful claims! Does the Cold Queen really think I would not know her stench by now?!"

I blinked. The Cold Queen? What did she...

Oh.

Oh.

She was talking about Mab.

Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness, ruler of the Winter Court of the Fae, leader of the Unseelie. The progenitor of every legend you've ever heard of wicked faeries, specifically wicked faerie queens. A being of immense power tied to Harry's home cosmos. Harry had worked for her before, and not by his choice either. I had met her twice and dealt with her on a matter that I now regretted.

And apparently, she was the enemy of the Queen of the Elves.

Now that I think about it, that made a frightening amount of sense, given Mab's true purpose.

Granted, Harry didn't know about that, so for him the response was a blink as he figured it out. "Lady, I do temp work for Mab, and this isn't it. I wish to hell it was, because I only owe her one more favor and she's out of my life for good." Harry pulled out his blasting rod. "Now, are you going to do this the easy way, by which I mean you give up the people you've taken and go back off to whatever corner of the Nevernever you call home? Or is it going to be the hard way, which means I burn your face off?"

Homura and Madoka nocked their bows, forming the magic energy arrows as they did so. Mami brought up one of her magic flintlocks. The other three girls prepared their weapons. Not to be outdone, I reached for my sonic disruptor.

The Queen hissed and let out an enraged shout. "This world is mine!", she screamed. "Die here!"

I felt power gather around her. She threw her arm out and energy pulsed from it. I felt the power shift behind us and turned.

A... thing appeared. A very nasty-looking thing. A very... very alien looking thing. Even more alien looking than an elf without glamour masking its real appearance. It let out a shriek of anger and hunger that ruffled snow around us.

Just like that, the Queen was gone.

Everyone was turning to face the monster she had summoned. The girls blinked. "Wait, what... is that thing?", Kyoko asked, raising her spear in a defensive posture.

Mami raised her flintlock. "Those are a lot of...."

I looked to Harry. The blood had drained from his face and left it almost as white as the snow. "Holy fucking hell's stars and stones bells....", he said.

The girls looked at him with looks of bewilderment and maybe, from prim Mami, a bit of irritation. The Gift of the TARDIS had translated that seven letter term all too well.

"It's an Outsider," Harry hissed. "It's a fucking Outsider!"

My eyes widened.

"Oh bugger," I rasped.
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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-05-04 08:37pm

Reality is, well, as you may have read, it is varied. It is diverse. It consists of the fantastic and the mundane. I have met wizards and psychics, magical girls and people who can manipulate the elements with their life force. Amongst my Companions I've numbered biotics, Jedi, wizards, and the young woman hosting her planet's incarnate spirit of light.

There is more out there, though. Dimensions existing outside of normal space-time worlds. Outside of Reality proper, if you will. They go by many names. Old Ones. Chaos Gods. Things From the Dungeon Dimensions.

Outsiders.

The creature that the Queen of the Elves had just summoned was one such thing. They hunger for reality. They're nasty and quick and, oh, nearly invulnerable against metaphysical forces.

Homura and Madoka acted first, trying to shoot the creature with their magic energy arrows. The energy sloughed harmlessly off of the wriggling mass of claw-tipped tentacles and appendages. A snarling, slavering mouth - wait, mouths - gnashed razor teeth. One tentacle lashed out for Homura. Madoka knocked her out of the way.

Sayaka swept in, saber raised, and brought it down on the tentacle. The swipe was strong, with much of her upper body put into it. It bit into ottherworldly flesh and removed the tentacle. A shriek erupted from the creature and another tentacle whipped forward. Kyoko moved to intercept it and managed to keep it from impaling Sayaka directly, but it still sliced across her side and tore a bloody gash through her suit. Sayaka cried out for a moment and fell to one side.

"Fuego!" Harry threw a lance of intense silver-white fire at the attacking tentacle. The magic seemed to slough off, but some of the energy still seemed to strike the Outsider. The wounded tentacle retracted... and another rushed forward and grabbed Kyoko around the waist, pulling her off her feet.

All this time Mami and Nagisa had been trying their own attacks on the creature, moving to flank it, but their attacks seemed to just... not quite be absorbed, I suppose, but not effect it in any way.

Liara and I moved in next. Liara threw a warp bolt at the tentacle grasping Kyoko. The dark matter seemed to congeal over the tentacle and stiffen it, allowing Kyoko to hack herself free. When yet another appendage of the beast came for her, I batted it away with a deflector field, giving Sayaka an opening to slice it off as well.

"Our attacks aren't working on it!", Madoka cried out. "What do we do?"

"If I could get over the tentacles, I might be able to hit it from above," Kyoko suggested. She backtracked under cover from myself and Liara to give herself a running start. She jumped high into the air, higher than a normal Human could have. But as she descended a tentacle whipped out and smacked her out of the air, its clawed end cutting a gash in her side. She fell back into the otherworldly snow of the Queen's dimension.

The creature seemed to focus on myself and Liara at this point. Four of its surviving tentacles lashed at us and the biotic and deflector fields we had to protect ourselves. "How are we going to defeat this?", Mami asked. "None of our weapons are working well."

"If I could just get higher," Kyoko said, picking herself up from the snow. "If I can get over the tentacles...."

Something clicked in my mind. "Harry!", I called out.

"Yeah?" Harry brought up his own magic shield to protect Madoka from a tentacle from striking her.

"Kyoko needs some altitude!", I pointed out. "Think you could pull off a Fastball Special?!"

Harry looked at me with momentary bewilderment before recognition came across his face and he smiled. "Yeah, I think I can manage that. Sayaka, I need a moment!"

Sayaka nodded and leapt in between Harry and the Outsider, her saber swishing about expertly to block the Outsider's attempts to attack her.

Harry fell back and looked to concentrate for a moment. He held up his staff in both hands and looked to Kyoko. "Jump as high as you can!", he called out.

Kyoko nodded. She focused for a moment, gathering her strength again, and leapt back into the air.

Before she had managed maybe twenty feet. This time, as she approached the apex of her jump, Harry thrust his staff up in her direction. "Ventas servitas!", he bellowed.

A whirlwind erupted from the end of his staff. A swirling column of silver-white energy - Harry had infused the spell with soulfire to give it added strength - flew upward and caught Kyoko, throwing her ever higher into the air. I watched her fly upward. Thirty feet. Forty. Fifty.

She did a somersault at the apex and started downward with her spear thrust below her, its point gleaming in the false light of the Queen's Realm. A battle cry erupted from her throat as she reached the final fifteen feet of her descent.

Two tentacles lashed upward, trying to stop her.

The Outsider was too slow.

Kyoko landed with the impact of a ballista bolt, driving the spear into the otherworldly flesh of the Outsider. It shrieked in savage agony and its tentacles whipped about, forcing us all back. After a moment, they went limp, and Sayaka jumped back in, hacking and slashing as well, while Liara's biotics blasted the tentacles away as Sayaka's sword severed them.

All the while, Kyoko - now standing on the main body of the writhing creature, kept stabbing it with her spear, claiming its eyes and tearing into its horrible slavering mouths.

"PYROFUEGO!", Harry roared. Another burst of soulfire-laden flame, even bigger than before, lanced out from his blasting rod and speared the creature's body below where Kyoko was cutting it to shreds. The shrieks of the Outsider gained volume, threatening to deafen us while Kyoko continued her assault on its main body.

The shrieks became death cries. And then they stilled. The Outsider... stopped.

Only after every tentacle ceased thrashing did Kyoko jump off of the Outsider's corpse, covered in the black fluids of its body. "These things take a lot of killing," Kyoko grumbled.

"Tell me about it," Harry mumbled. He shook his head. I looked at him with worry. He'd used quite a bit of soulfire already, and since the fuel was, well, his soul, it meant he had only so much to give before he'd need to rest heavily.

Of course, this was Harry Dresden we were talking about, and he rarely lacked the energy to run his mouth. "Holy crap. The Queen actually summoned a freaking Outsider."

"What was that thing?", Nagisa asked, full of the curiosity of youth.

"A horrible nightmare from outside of our reality," Harry answered.

"It reminded me of that creature that invaded Unseen University," Liara said, looking toward the remains. "Are they related?"

"Possibly," I said. "The Dungeon Dimensions are outside of normal reality."

"Let's just hope she doesn't have more of them," Sayaka said, favoring her injured side a little. She would finish healing shortly, but the wound had undoubtedly been painful. My own wounds from the grimhounds ached in sympathy.

"Possibly not," I said. "Otherwise she would have used them on some associates of mine when invading their worlds." I brought out the sonic screwdriver to scan. "Nothing else around here."

Harry, meanwhile, lifted the tracking spells he had for the Kanames and the Kamijos. "This way," he said. "Watch out for nasties."

"I'll take up the rear," Mami volunteered. She held up one of her magic flintlocks. "If anyone needs them, I brought the grief cubes dropped by the wraith we fought in the park."

The girls checked their soul gems. All had some darkness from the power they'd been using up, but none took her up on the offer. They still had reserves.

And so we continued on.




We'd been walking for a while in the faux-forest when Madoka stepped up beside me and asked, "How are we going to beat that Queen?"

"Well, the anti-glamour will help," I said. "I imagine that once we confront her and give her a few good whacks she'll lose interest. She's used to dominating the minds of others with her glamours and mental powers."

"Is that how she was beaten before?"

"More or less," I answered. "Although with a little help, mind you. One incursion I know of involved getting the King of the Elves to show up. The other time, well, it involved a young lady forging a rather interesting link to her homeland to overpower the Queen on her home soil."

"Could I do that?", Madoka asked. "With my other self?"

"You mean the part of you from the last timeline, who made the wish that turned her into the savior of other magic girls?", I asked. "The existing quantum link between you could allow it. But there is an element of risk." I looked over at her, my voice kept low. "If you draw on the power too much, it could overwhelm your physical body and merge you with your other self."

Madoka nodded. "That's what I thought," she said.

"Right." I glanced back to Homura and noticed a flicker of pain cross her features. She had heard us. She'd probably already considered the possibility and rejected it for the same reason.

"Hold up," Harry said. He stopped our movement.

Ahead of us, the road was empty and the trees still. Too still. Harry had undoubtedly realized that there was something out there. I pulled out the sonic screwdriver and waved it upward. Life signs of some sort. Hard to read in the sheer wrongness of this parasite dimension.

Hidden in the leaves and branches of the faux trees and along the underbrush were little... things. Barely recognizable as humanoid and with a grayish pallor that helped them fit into this environment.

"What are those things?" Liara asked, having noticed them. She held herself ready.

"Dromes," I answered.

Homura brought out her bow. "Are they dangerous? Hostile?"

"Immensely dangerous. Hostility is an issue of point of view."

"Oh?"

"Yes." I looked back at her. "How hostile are you toward a potential source of food?" After letting those words sink in, I continued. "The dromes can establish a sort of psychic link with others and put them into a dream state. The dream is so powerful that once you've had something to eat or drink within it, the sensation overpowers you and you can't leave it. Then the drome sits and waits."

"Waits for what?", Nagisa asked.

"For you to starve to death," I answered. "And then a bit more for your corpse to start to decompose. It doesn't have teeth, so it has to wait for the body to become soft before it can start to eat you."

A look of horror crossed the girl's oddly-colored eyes and she huddled briefly behind Mami.

"In the unreal space of the Queen's world their dreams are even more powerful," I continued. "They create a sort of pocket dimension within this one." I started to step forward. "Liara, if I fall asleep, give me ten minutes and then try to link minds with me."

Liara nodded.

"What are you doing, Doc?", Harry asked.

"There are a lot of dromes here," I said, looking around. "They're not much in a fight, but if they get lucky we'll all be ensnared. I'd rather not risk it."

"Doctor...", Homura began.

I didn't hear the rest of what she had to say. I stepped forward and right over where a drome had cleverly hidden itself under the snow. It leapt up and....




I was in my TARDIS, laying on my hammock.

It was... a dream?

"Doctor?" I looked over and saw Liara at a distance. "it's good you're awake. You promised to show me the Rings of Carina today."

"I did?" I blinked and gently lowered myself from the cot. Something seemed... off to me. Wasn't I just with... others? My head was foggy and I couldn't remember. "Yes, I imagine I did." I walked over toward the TARDIS controls. Several warning lights were blinking. I looked over the status readings and felt confusion. Why had the warnings triggered? That didn't make sense.

"I thought you might like something to eat, first." Liara walked up to me. She held a container of... ah. Sugar-coated candies. M&Ms, I think you lot would call them. She offered the container to me. "I have to admit, I've always liked Human chocolate."

"So do I," I answered, still feeling the strangeness in my head. I'd been somewhere else, right? I... I couldn't remember. I...

My fingers reached in and took a handful of M&Ms from the case. As I felt the little candies in the palm of my hand, a thought in my head told me... check my surroundings. My eyes looked beyond Liara to the shelves behind her. Drawings from Chrissy and Kari. Photos and holopictures from prior Companions. A nice little picture of me with my two prior Companions, Avatar Korra and Asami Sato, and that nice bald fellow with the scar on his face... wait, who? Wasn't that...? Why would he...?

As I pondered that thought, I brought my right hand up toward my mouth, ready to enjoy a nice chocolately breakfast after my nap.

My eyes moved further down the shelf to a blue mycosia flower, wilted and nearly dead, none of its vibrant blue visible any longer.

My brain surged with excitement as I knew, I knew, something was wrong.

Before the first of the M&Ms touched my tongue, I drew my hand back from my mouth and tossed them to the floor. I dropped the container and let the little colored candies spread out. I looked to Liara, her face showing shock and uncertainty and....

Her skin... started to become gray.

"Nicely done," I said to the drome as it lost its form. It stepped back but I grabbed it before it could get out of reach. I reached out with my right hand and a sword appeared in it. A simple blade, patterned mentally, I suppose, off Sayaka's saber. I drew it up to the drome's neck. It burbled something. Fear. Terror. Surprise. "I'm a Time Lord," I told the creature. "We're not so easy to trick."

It protested. It was hungry. They were all hungry.

"Of course, but I'm not much in the mood to be your dinner," I retorted. "And even if the lot of you were to overwhelm us eventually... have you thought how many of you would die?"

It shivered in fear at that, but expressed its hunger again. And its fear. The Queen...

"The Queen, yes, I understand. I'm here to stop her." I narrowed my eyes. "Now, I can easily cut your head off, and then I'll wake up and my friends and I will start destroying you and your kind in job lots. Or..." I stared at it intently. "...you could listen to me."

The drome expressed uncertainty and curiosity in one complex statement.

"Oh, I think you'll find what I have to say very convincing," I answered. "I have an offer to make to you and your kind stuck in this world..."




Liara, Madoka, and Harry were all kneeling around me when I awoke. The drome who had ensnared me had appeared nearby. "Don't hurt it," was the first thing out of my mouth, as I'd noticed Homura and Kyoko readying to attack. "Everyone calm down."

"What the hell?!" Harry glared at me. "What did you think you were doing?!"

"Establishing my bona fides," I croaked as Liara helped me stand up. "The dromes had to realize ensnaring us wouldn't be so easy. And I needed to talk privately." I looked ahead. The dromes were leaving. "Our way is clear. The Queen's throwing a celebration with her fellow elves a bit up the road, at the end of the forest. We'd better get going."

We didn't make it ten feet before Nagisa stepped off the path slightly. "What's this?", she asked, reaching down. I looked over at her as she held up a dark object. She had it by the handle. "It looks like kitchen ware."

"An iron frying pan," I said, smirking. "Undoubtedly left by the last person to invade the Queen's world." I went over and took it. "Well, a little more iron won't hurt. Come along, everyone."

We emerged from the forest path before the next threat set upon us. Shaped like humans but with dragonfly wings, the faeries -for lack of a better term - came down upon us in a swarm. Liara held them off with a biotic field that caught their hacking and biting and slashing. I could see the fatigue in her features. Given Harry hadn't really recovered from the soulfire he'd spent fighting the Outsider, it was critical we end this fight quickly. But there were so many.

I decided to play one of my trump cards.

I held up the sonic disruptor, set it for wide field effect, and activated a customized setting I'd rigged during my sojourn to prepare for our invasion. Nothing visible came from the tip, which glowed with purple light and whirred loudly.

The faeries... screamed. Howled. They began running into each other in mid-air, shrieking in dismay and disorientation, and many began to fall unconscious into the field and snow. After ten, fifteen seconds of this the conscious members turned and fled in a disorganized swarm.

"They'll be careful next time," I said. "I didn't want to show that until we met the Queen, honestly."

"What did you do?", Kyoko asked.

"Electromagnetic disruption," I explained. "The Queen and her kind have senses rooted in electromagnetism. It's why they can't stand iron, it interferes with their senses." I twirled the disruptor in my hand. "To their point of view, I turned the air into iron."

"Iron in the air..." Harry whistled. "Nice trick."

"Thank you." I frowned. "Unfortunately I've tipped my hand on that. The Queen will expect it. I anticipate she'll warn her people and they may try counters of some sort. They'll certainly see it coming."

"It will still be a useful edge." Homura put her bow back into its standby position on her shoulder. "We should keep going."

"Yeah." Harry held up the tracking compass and led us out of the forest.



Our trip through what looked to be high grass was uneventful. We came out into a corner of the Queen's world that was not like the rest. Evidently the Queen had managed to keep at least one portion still bright and nice-looking; an open meadow, green grasses and all the like, with a fake sun shining gold in the sky. It still looked slightly off, of course. This wasn't real. It was... an idea. A concept of the perfect pleasant meadow.

Elves were everywhere. Even Harry's anti-glamour stuff couldn't quite defeat the sheer power of their personal glamour, not here in the heart of the Queen's power. Here they still looked beautiful beyond words. They sat in the meadow, dozens in number - maybe hundreds - and looked like they were enjoying a great picnic.

In the middle of their picnic area stood a young Japanese man, wearing slightly crumpled house clothes, playing the violin with sweet and expert precision. "Kyosuke," I heard Sayaka say. "He's okay."

"For now," Harry muttered.

Indeed, I could see that Kyosuke was... tired. There was blood on one of his fingers and they showed the signs of overuse on the taunt wires of the violin.

Around him children and adults danced and frolicked with forced joy. They looked even more tired than Kyosuke in most cases. But they didn't stop dancing.

"Mom, Dad," Madoka said, her heart full of pain, seeing her parents amongst the dancers. Her father showed burn marks on the skin of the lower arm, undoubtedly from the torture used to force her mother and brother out of their closet. "But where is..."

"There," I said. I saw Tatsuya Kaname further on. He was seated before the throne at the opposite end of the meadow, surrounded by candy and toys, and he didn't look as disturbed. Of course he didn't.

Behind him, the Queen of the Elves stood from her throne. She was flanked by armored Elves carrying wicked-looking halberds and crossbows. Grimhounds stood up from where they'd lain near her, larger and meaner-looking than the ones from before. She looked to us and her fellow Elves did the same. "Welcome", she said, her voice growing cold. "Welcome, disrespectful children, so mindless of the needs of your people. Welcome, agents of the Cold Queen, mortal enemy to my kind, she who turned my King against me."

I raised my eyebrows at that. It would have made sense that if turning the Queen and King against each other would weaken them as a whole, Mab would do it. But was it true? The Queen was not quite like the Sidhe. I did not know if she had any compulsion placed upon her to not lie, for one thing. So she could be lying for all I knew. Blaming Mab for her fight with the King would fit the Queen's personality, maybe.

"We are not servants of Queen Mab, but come of our own purpose to state our quarrel with thee and thine, O Queen" Harry declared, stepping up. "I am Harry Dresden, Warden of the White Council of Wizards, a protector of mortalkind. I bid thee to return to their homes these people, and I will have no further quarrel with thee."

I nodded and stepped up beside him. "I am the Doctor, a Time Lord of Gallifrey, and the people of Earth are under my protection. Return them and I will depart your lands."

We were joined by a third figure. "I am Madoka Kaname," Madoka told her. "I've come for my family and the people of my city. I want them returned now. Give them back and I'll leave." Her face stiffened into determination. "I don't want to hurt anyone, but if you don't let them go, I will fight for my people."

The others all took a step to be right behind us. Harry nodded to Madoka and me before continuing. "Thrice thou hast heard our demands, great Queen. Our reasons for quarrel are clear. I bid thee again, Queen of Elves, to heed our cause and return those thy people have taken from hearth and home."

The Queen scowled at us. "You, of worlds that have life and substance we are denied, come to my place to make demands of me. You, who treat with the Cold Queen and her monstrous Court? You, who seed iron into our very air? You, who would deny us our rights?"

"Thou hast no right to take mortals who have offered thee no insult," Harry insisted. "I bid thee again, return them, and let us restore peace, or we will resume conflict with thee."

The Queen nodded her head. The elves stood from their blankets. They were suddenly clad in chainmail or armor. Bows were nocked with arrows. Swords slid from their scabbards with a cacophony of metallic hissing. Clubs were taken up.

To the right of the entrance, the high grasses parted to reveal a horde of slavering grimhounds, just as big and mean as the ones who had attacked us earlier.

Across from them, to our left, the grass parted with the thundering of hooves. Elven horsemen appeared on fearsome dark mounts, the horse equivalent of the flame-eyed grimhounds, and at their lead was a horseman with no head and the most fearsome looking mount of all.

Harry didn't glance my way, but I could hear him go, "Okay, now what?"

"Please tell me you have a plan, Doctor," Mami said, her voice strong with only the slightest hint of the fear I knew she had to be feeling.

I looked out at the army that was moments away from trying to kill us. Us being nine people, wounded, tired, and deep in the territory of the Queen of the Elves. We looked every bit the arrogant mortals who had far too much confidence and arrogance for our own good and would soon suffer for it.

Reasonable of them. We were, after all, outnumbered.

Completely outnumbered.

Utterly doomed.

And so, of course, I smiled widely.

I had the Elves exactly where I wanted them.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-05-05 09:39am

The meadow grew silent. Kyosuke stopped playing and the other people were, like him, ushered to the side under the mental domination of one of the Queen's courtiers. The rest glared at us with hatred mixed with irritation and unbridled bloodlust. We had dared to intrude here, in their realm. We, pitiful human mortals to their eyes, humans who needed to be put in our place, i.e. at their feet worshiping their superiority.

But the Queen wasn't. By now she should have given the order to attack. But she was just staring at us. Staring at me.

I smirked. I couldn't hide my utter lack of concern, and that was making the Queen uncertain. It was making her wonder what I was planning. "Oh, not so confident are you?", I asked. "Maybe you've heard of me, then. Maybe you've heard my name before." I allowed the smirk to become a smile. "I'm waiting, Queenie."

The tension in the air actually increased. The elves strained visibly, ready to launch themselves at us at their Queen's command. But in her green eyes I saw calculation. Calculation, uncertainty, fear.

"You're thinking 'what is he up to'?", I said for her. "You're thinking 'why isn't he terrified like a good little Human should be?'. 'What does he have up his sleeve?' Those are very good questions, yes. And you know you won't like the answers. Oh no, you won't."

And I saw it. She was about to attack anyway. Goaded by my words, goaded by her own uncertain fears.

Which was why I acted first.

"Molly! Now!"

At my shout, Molly Carpenter appeared, standing at the door to the TARDIS... and right beside the gaggle of Mitakihara denizens that had been corralled near the Queen's throne.

Now, you might wonder... just how did she get my TARDIS here? I'd never shown her how to fly it. Could it have even flown well in the bizarre space-time of the Queen's realm without alerting the Queen to its presence?

The answer is the most obvious one. She didn't fly it. It was carried.

And the means of being carried were now gathered around the TARDIS in a tight little horde along the ground and on the floor within my TARDIS. A living carpet that, at Molly's gesture, spread outward. A cacophony of battle cries echoed in the air, but they all coalesced into one distinct cry.

"Nae quin! Nae king! Nae laird! Nae master! We willna be fooled again!"

....okay, with one exception, coming from the forward section of said carpet.

"Nae quin! Nae king! Nae laird! One baron-- and underr mutually agrreeed arrr-angement, ye ken!"

And with that the Nac Mac Feegle - led by the distinct rabbit skull helmeted form of Rob Anybody, the Big Man of the Chalk Hill Clan - rushed forth in a six inch high tide of blue topped with red. Mouse charged from the TARDIS with literally dozens of the Feegles seated on his back and neck and head, or hanging from his fur, rushing head-long for the grimhound pack like a big furry armored personnel carrier.

The elves never saw them coming. The nearest ones never even had a chance to fight back before being buried under a tide of Feegles.

And my party saw their chance.

"FUEGO!," Harry roared, and from his blasting rod a massive fireball came forth and entered the formation of elves to our right. The fireball exploded in their midst, resulting in screams of terror and pain.

"Parmigiano Reggiano!" The shill cry could only have come from Nagisa even if you hadn't accounted for her preference for cheese-based battle cries. The little magical girl shot ahead of us and into the gap created by Harry's fireball, her trumpet and its magic-charged bubbles blasting a bigger hole in the elves to our right. Into that hole charged Sayaka and Kyoko, hacking and slashing with their weapons with such speed that the result was quite a bit more of that cyan fluid flowing into the grass.

On our left, Mami had pulled out all of the stops, generating a massive.... oh dear, she'd actually decided to progress her magical firearms a bit. A magical Gatling gun appeared before her and swept across the elves to the left with bolts of yellow light that blasted through their chainmail and knocked even the plate-wearing elves to their knees.

That left us. And it left the Horsemen. I charged ahead, Liara to one side of me and Madoka to the other, and Harry and Homura behind us. Fireballs and energy arrows and biotic blasts lashed out as we confronted a rank of elven infantry trying to bar our way. I held up the sonic disruptor and sent out a wide-angled kinetic charge that blasted three halberd-toting elves away from me. Another elf came toward my injured side, flail swinging... and promptly ran into Harry's force magic. "Forzare!", he cried as he sent out another bolt of will that bowled over more of the elves.

"Run them down!", the Queen screamed, her voice shrill with rage.

The headless horseman and his cavalry were already charging, heading straight for us. I held out the sonic disruptor with my left hand and sonic screwdriver with my right and used both to generate as intense an EM disturbance as I could manage.

The elves in the cavalry screamed, as did those near them. The horses began to waver and move right to left until riders plowed into each other, sending rider and mount flying. The charge disintegrated around us.

That left the headless horseman, who might have posed problems... had a Feegle not descended on a borrowed buzzard to drop a second Feegle onto the being's horse. Big Yan of the Chalk Hill scrambled up the back of the horse's neck and head and plopped himself down in front of its eyes. "Here we are agin, ye bogle!", the Feegle shouted. "Let's see if yer heid is as tough as before!" And with that he gave the horse a ferocious head-butt between its eyes.

The horse swayed left, then right, and then... wham. It hit the ground.

With the cavalry charge broken we had the grimhounds next, or at least those not being cut up by excited Feegles. About six of the ghastly hounds charged at us, razor teeth positively slavering from their hunger for our blood.

Mouse plowed into the lead hound and sent it flying into the elves that had been on our right, where one swipe of Sayaka's saber put it down. He turned and bounded up on another while Harry bared the force rings on his hands. He sent a discharge of force power at them that was strong enough to flip a car.

The grimhounds never had a chance.

Elves not yet fighting the Feegles came from the other side, but Liara stepped up to deal with them. In a single throw she sent out a singularity powerful enough to suck in four of the elves, holding them aloft and helpless. Her second throw generated a warp field that led to more screaming from the elves that ran into it as the very molecules of their bodies started to fly apart. A force blast of biotic power threw their entire front rank back. There was a look of fatigue in Liara's sapphire eyes when she looked back at me briefly, but it was tinged with determination. She would hold them.

In all the confusion of the battle I hadn't had quite a chance to pay attention to the evacuation. Now I could see it, but only because elves screamed in surprise and collapsed, blinded by bright light. Molly had a wand in her hand and a baseball bat in the other, one to generate the lights that disorientated and blinded elven attackers going after the people from Mitakihara, the other to take advantage of their blinding by beaning them in the head. "Keep going!", she shouted, even as Kyosuke and his family moved past and to the entrance to the TARDIS.

We were almost to them when another aspect of the battle unfolded. The buzzing in the air prompted me to look up and see more of the feral faeries from before descending upon us with their dragonfly wings, in greater numbers than before. I held up my sonic disruptor and began generating more of the EM disturbances to stop them, but their greater numbers ensured that I couldn't get them all, not when they had braced for what I could do. If they landed... well, the Feegles were already fully engaged. It would be bad.

Thankfully... I'd already arranged some air support.

Dozens, hundreds, of little lights erupted from the TARDIS, lights that contained more little faeries in them. They were clad in makeshift armor made from cut portions of cartons or soda cans, and in their arms they carried, like halberds, box cutters with some paring or steak knives amongst them depending upon size. A shrill voice cried out, "For the Pizza Lord! Charge!"

Harry's head whipped up. "Toot?!", he said, incredulous, before leveling a look at me.

"I may have told him you were in need of aid," I admitted. "Pizza rations were arranged, too."

Toot-toot is not a being I have mentioned before, I think. He was one of the minor wild fae of Harry's home cosmos, a literal pixie faerie with wings, lavender hair, and everything else one might expect from a pixie. Harry had used him for years as an informant and ally. As it turned out, the Little Folk of Faerie loved pizza to the point of addiction, and Harry kept their loyalty with a weekly ration of pizza that had granted him the use of what has become a small army of faeries. He'd used them in combat situations too, such as thwarting the mad Summer Lady Aurora before she could destroy the natural order of the world, so this wasn't entirely new to them.

As it happened, I had expected we would need just such an army, and so I had made sure to find Toot and have him assemble the full force of the "Za Lord's Guard" - the elite of Harry's little followers - and the "Za Lord's Militia" formed out of the even wider circle of occasional recruits that could be brought in with pizza. All at the cost of a visit to Harry's favorite pizzeria.

Toot-toot and the pixies shot through the air, every bit the swarm that the Queen's feral fliers had become, and while they didn't quite have the sheer numbers of the Queen's flying little buggers, they had actual armor, and more than that, weapons. Weapons made of iron.

Well, stainless steel in most cases, but you get what I mean.

There was a great deal of shrill cries and screams as the two swarms converged, even as the Queen's fae had already begun to snatch away Feegles that were now freed by Toot-toot and his army.

The battle had turned in our favor once again.

Which, of course, meant the most dangerous moment had come. As we had reached Molly, Madoka rushed ahead and took her parents in a hug. "Mom! Dad!"

"Madoka?" Her father looked at her, wincing from where she'd pressed against one of his wounds, his eyes heavy with fatigue and the remnant effects of the elven glamour. "What are you doing here?"

"Where's Tatsuya?!", she asked, almost frantic with worry.

"I... I don't know," he admitted.

"Mom?"

Junko blinked. She was clearly fighting the mental manipulation. "He's... she has him. She wants to raise him."

One elf who recovered from Molly's light show came up, sword in hand, but Homura put an energy arrow into him before he could strike at Madoka. "Madoka, we should find the Queen," she urged.

"Stop!", the Queen's voice demanded.

And... we did.

The compulsion, the strength, of the Queen's voice was overpowering, as it was here in the center of her power. All eyes turned to face her.

To face her... and Tatsuya Kaname, who was crying in her arms as she held a wicked looking nail to his throat. Her rage was so great, though, that she was not bothering to even try to maintain her glamour, and her eyes, her features, were starting to turn gray and formless.

"You invade my lands. You spit upon my charity. Well, that is fine," the Queen rasped. "I will enjoy making you all suffer. And when I take your world, I..."

I reached into my jacket, pulled out the iron frying pan Nagisa had found, and in one motion tossed it toward her.

It fell at her feet.

The Queen's eyes flashed with malicious delight. "You thought that could frighten me, fraud? You, with your stolen name and empty heart, thought that just any iron might stop..."

The iron frying pan leapt from the ground.

As it did so, I could make out the hand that grabbed it. From nothingness a lone figure appeared, clad in midnight, and in one spin to gather power the frying pan raced up and took the Queen in the side of the face. She screamed and let go of her little hostage as she crumbled to the ground. Tatsuya dropped and landed in the waiting arm of the figure in midnight.

Tiffany Aching looked down at the Queen of the Elves and shook her head. "Granny Weatherwax was right about you," she said, cradling the weeping Tatsuya with her left arm. "You never learn."

"You." The Queen tried to lunge at Tiffany.

Tiffany got her in the head again, so hard that the dream built around us fell apart, and what was once a warm meadow became just another snowfield in her cold world. "Yes," Tiffany said simply. And with that word, the witch of the Chalk Hills turned away and started running toward us.

The Queen's bodyguards were already leaping into action to intercept her. Homura and Madoka were faster and they were riddled with a storm of energy arrows, giving Tiffany the opening she needed to come to us.

As she did so, the battle around us renewed itself savagely.

Tiffany was a decent runner, though, and with Homura and Madoka shooting down any elf that risked the iron frying pan she was wielding, she arrived and handed the crying Tatsuya to his mother. "Doctor," she said, nodding at us.

"Miss Aching," I answered.

She looked around. "You don't do subtle, do you?", she asked pointedly.

"Not always, no," I answered. I smirked toward Harry, who - while clearly running low on energy - was delivering yet another fireball into a gaggle of elves. Or a scourge, I suppose. "Especially with Harry." I said nothing else, but let her quick mind work out everything it needed to.

I honestly had not intended to bring Tiffany. But when I recruited the Feegles from her land, well... I suppose her coming along was a case of turnabout being fair play, given how often the Chalk Hill Feegles involved themselves in her affairs.

"We've got everybody," Homura said. "We should leave."

"Yes." I took out a whistle and blew on it. "All right everyone! Back into the TARDIS, double-time! And I mean all of you."

Our allies - the Feegles, Toot-toot and his pixie army, the magical girls - started moving toward the TARDIS. The Elves were starting to rally from the initial shock of the attack and Harry, Liara, and I had to wade back in to the fray to restore the holes in the Elven forces to let them back through. Nobody was getting out of this untouched, I saw. Harry's duster had protected him from the worst of it, but everyone was showing cuts and bruises - everyone save Sayaka, at least, who only showed damage to her suit. The Feegles carried their wounded and... yes, their dead too. Toot-toot's pixies aided them by air-lifting out some of the most wounded Feegles.

In the savagery of the fighting, I tried to keep the elves down with my little "iron in the air" trick. But they were getting used to it. Not that it still wasn't debilitating to them, but those along the outer fringes of the effect were starting to adjust. The best I could do was create holes in their ranks where they fell.

That was demonstrated aptly when one elf got through my efforts and the attacks from the others and started to bring a sword down toward my head. I caught the sword with a parry from the sonic disruptor, pointed my sonic screwdriver at the elf, and drew a scream of agony from him as he dropped from the electromagnetic distortion I generated around his head.

The momentary let-up of the disruptions gave new life to the efforts of the others, though. They might have overwhelmed us at that point of Liara hadn't stepped up and let loose such a large wave of biotic energy that it left her collapsing from the drain on her personal energy. I caught her with one arm and supported her with my shoulder.

At this point, with everyone in a circle around the TARDIS, it looked like we could be in real trouble. The elves were pushing us back, and while that bought time for the last of the Mitakihara people to be secured, it also meant we might be pushed back into the TARDIS in way that kept us all from getting inside. And even accounting for the Feegles' natural gifts at quantum dislocation... I really wasn't in the mood to leave anyone to the Queen.

Of course.... it meant one more thing.

The elves were so focused on us that they never saw it coming when the dromes struck.

One moment they were simply there, a host of gray little beings. And elves began to fall over, sent into deep dreaming sleep. The dromes ignored them from that point on, simply continuing on as they had before. The elven ranks, realizing their allies were falling to the ground in deep slumber, began to fall back, not realizing the new threat that had joined the fight.

Within moments, the elven forces simply... broke. Beset by the dromes from within and without and by my allies from the front, the elves decided to run.

Tiffany noticed the horde of dromes and her mouth opened slightly. "You convinced them to help us?", she said.

"Oh yes," I replied. "I told them I'd find them a home so long as they aided us and left our people alone. If they so much as give one of us a little daydream, the deal's off."

Tiffany nodded at that. We watched the dromes join the others getting into the TARDIS. Around us the fight ran out of steam; the retreat of the elves was followed by those feral flying faeries they used. They'd... given up.

I breathed in. Looking out over the snowfield, I felt my stomach twist from how much red and cyan now stained the white. And the remains. All of the bodies.

"Doctor!", I heard a voice call out. I turned and saw Rob Anybody standing at the entrance to the TARDIS. "We'd best be goin', nae tellin' how long 'fore the Quin gets 'em back together!"

"Right." I nodded to Tiffany and then to Harry. "Let's go," I said.

Harry looked up and whistled. "Major General Minimus! Back into the blue box! We're leaving!"

"Yes my lord!", Toot cried out proudly. He started shouting orders, trying to sound like a Marine drill sergeant. The remaining pixies of his army headed for the TARDIS door.

We joined them. Inside Madoka was hugging her parents tightly. Hitomi was clinging to Kyosuke down in the pit of the control center. I decided to let them be for the moment. I helped Liara to one of the stairs leading to the upper ring of the control chamber and the doors beyond and helped her sit down. "You alright?", I asked.

"I just need some energy drinks," she mumbled. "Give me time."

I nodded.

"You, of course, realize the Feegles will take everything not nailed down?", Tiffany pointed out from where she was watching us. "And maybe even some things that are."

"Yes," I said. "Which is why the only things I kept in the TARDIS are the things I don't mind them taking. Or things I know they'd never bother with."

I was answered with a nod while I finished setting up the TARDIS. Harry, standing as door guard, looked back and said, "Looks like they're almost done regrouping. It's time to go."

"Right." I clapped my hands together, finished my calculations, and turned some knobs. "Here we go. The ride could get a might bumpy."

As it turned out, it was more than bumpy.



Several minutes of bone-shaking rattling and at least two falls on my arse later, the TARDIS materialized back in Mitakihara's garden park, near where the portal to the Queen's World remained. I stepped out with Harry and some of the others. "One last piece of business, then," I said. "How do we close that?"

"Thunderbolt iron," Tiffany suggested. "It's the usual way."

"But it has to be here in a way that keeps the local authorities from moving it," I reminded her. "And they're quite a bit more... touchy on things in this world than yours."

"I could try a containment circle for now," Harry suggested.

"A good idea. Let's..." I turned and watched Homura and Madoka step out. "How are they?", I asked.

"Dad will be fine," Madoka replied, looking, well, spent, but very relieved. "Molly's using your medicine on him. Tatsuya's still crying though."

"Frightening experience for a child that age," I remarked. I looked to Tiffany. "I don't suppose you could help with...."

The world shook furiously, throwing us all to the ground. As I picked myself up my senses started going haywire. I could feel space-time starting to warp and tear around us.

"Crivens!", came a cry from within the TARDIS. "This isnae good! The Quin is comin'!"

"Waily waily wail-..."

"Daft Wullie, I..."

As I picked myself up from the ground, powerful light was shining around us. The other magical girls came from the TARDIS to join us and we all looked up to see....

A Crack.

Not a big one. Not even close to the biggest.

But it was more than big enough to be a problem, given what it was doing. It ripped through the air just above the bridge that had served as our doorway, bright as day, energy spewing forth...

....and directly into the Queen of the Elves.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-05-06 08:47am

We were all watching as the Crack in the Universe surged, spilling bright light out into the garden park, its energy suffusing the form of the Queen of the Elves.

I swallowed and looked over to Harry, who had as close a look to pure fear as one can probably manage. He remembered the last Crack he'd seen, the one that allowed a young neophyte to magic to accidentally raise an army of zombies even when he fell into a coma, a feat met only by the most powerful necromancers his world had known.

And this Crack was larger than that one had been.

"You thought you could invade my home and leave just like that?", she hissed, her form becoming against the gaunt and beautiful feminine look. Gray eyes turned green and shinded with emerald fury. And for the first time, a thought crossed my mind. That the Queen's appearance under her glamour was just as unoriginal as the rest of her. It wasn't just a stereotypical appearance, oh no. She was emulating something.

Or rather, someone. Namely, Queen Mab.

"Your suffering will be spoken of for all time," the Queen vowed.

"Always with your monologuing, give it a rest," Harry retorted, his fear prompting the usual reaction of running his mouth. "For..."

Before he could finish his force spell, the Queen's hand reached out. Harry looked like he'd been struck by a truck. He flew backward in the air and slammed, hard, on the walkway beneath us. Given how tired he already was, the sheer power of the attack took what he had left. I heard a faint sound leave Harry's chest, and then the only movement was the weak heaving of his chest as he fell unconscious.

There was a war cry. Kyoko shot forward like a comet, spear raised, and she looked like she would be impaling the Queen in seconds.

The Queen waved her hand contemptuously. Kyoko's war cry turned into an agonized scream as massive energy slammed into her and sent her flying into the embankment of the upper path that led to the bridge. Stone and soil crumbled around her from the force of the impact. A weak sound came from her before she fell, unconscious.

"Kyoko!" Sayaka glared at the Queen and leapt into the fight, Nagisa streaking beside her and Mami's flintlocks firing. The Queen struck at them with her energy. Sayaka jumped and dodged while Nagisa slid to the side. Mami cartwheeled out of the way. Sayaka, saber raised, let out a "Hyah!" and came from the Queen's side while Nagisa, trumpet up and bubbles spewing, came from the other.

Suddenly the Queen wasn't there... and they smashed into each other.

She reappeared, nearby, and in one swing of her hand Nagisa and Sayaka went flying, slamming into the embankments to either side.

They stopped moving.

At that point, Mami generated.... well, the biggest gun yet. It was an, in relative miniature, an entire rail cannon. "Tiro finale!", she shouted, firing a burst of massive yellow energy at the Queen.

The energy slammed into her and... it sloughed right off. Like it couldn't touch her.

"Mami, get...!"

My warning didn't come in time. A massive blast of energy erupted from the Queen. Mami couldn't jump out of the way in time. She went down with a brief cry of pain.

I shouted in anger and brought up both sonics, turned to maximum outputs, and channeled the biggest electromagnetic distortion I could manage right at her head. From around me energy arrows came flying, courtesy of Homura and Madoka, and we threw everything we had into attacking the Queen.

Flame erupted around her. I turned to see Tiffany standing outside the TARDIS. One hand was gloved and holding... oh dear. A thermal generator. One I'd shown her, of the same type that Asami had turned into a flamethrower for training with Korra, and she was using the massive thermal power of the device to channel heat into flame to strike at the Queen.

The Queen seemed to stagger for a moment, beset by heat and magnetic disturbance and the power of Homura and Madoka. I thought that maybe we'd done it. Maybe we'd put together enough power to overwhelm her, to stop her.

The Queen screamed.

And sheer, unbelievable PAIN filled my body. The energy that erupted from her broke every bit of concentration in my mind. I dropped my sonics and fell to my knees. I heard cries behind me, but I could barely turn to see where Madoka and Homura had fallen. Tiffany was on her knees as well, her hair frazzled and face covered in sweat as she fought the sheer power of the Queen, empowered as she was by the Crack in the Multiverse and all of the energy pouring from it.

The Queen laughed with amusement. "So much for this world's defenders," she cooed. She brought up a hand and made a contemptuous little gesture with it. I heard another cry of pain. I could barely turn my head to see Molly now sprawled out beside Harry. She'd been trying to pull him to safety inside of the TARDIS; now she lay unconscious beside her mentor.

I grit my teeth and tried to stand. No. No, I wouldn't let it end this way. I wouldn't...!

There was a cry from within the TARDIS. The Feegles erupted from it, their terror now overwhelmed by their instinctive desire to fight - especially against the Queen. The Queen laughed at them as they raced toward her and gestured with her arm. Invisible energy lashed out and they all went flying in a spray of blue and red.

"Defend the Pizza Lord!", Toot-toot shrilled. Some, but not all, of his troops joined him.

"Don't," I croaked. But it was too late. Another wave of the Queen's hand and Toot-toot and his troops cried out in pain, falling to the ground with soft, horrible little thuds.

"Is that all?" The Queen let out a laugh with amusement. "Such power. I have never imagined such power. I could take this entire world with it. But why stop there?" She spread her arms and laughed. "Why stop at any world? With this power, my King will certainly return to me! With this power, even the Cold Queen cannot stop me!" She looked down at me as I fought to get to my feet and smiled. "And all thanks to you, Doctor."

"No," I said. "I won't let you."

She made a dismissive gesture toward me with her hand. It felt like she'd just hit me with a trash compactor. I flew backward onto my back and landed with a surge of pain. I tried to sit up but couldn't. The Queen's will pressed down on me. I grimaced and fought, but it was like trying to stand up when held by a titanium press.

"You think you know so much, but you know so little, false Doctor," the Queen continued. "I would almost let you go just to see you fail to stop what is to come. But you have annoyed me enough today. You will die screaming, and only after you see all of these others die first, knowing that their deaths are on your hands."

"I'll stop you," I hissed.

"No, you won't."

And she pressed down harder, almost to the point where I lost consciousness.

Two figures lifted from the ground. I watched, helplessly, as the Queen levitated Tiffany and Madoka into the air, suspending them over me limply, like rag dolls. "You two have invaded my realm. You have taken from me. You have insulted me and mine. Now I will repay the insult." She smiled wickedly as she directed her gaze at Tiffany. "I once asked you if you knew what color your insides were," the Queen cooed wickedly. "I think it's time we found out."

I tried to move. I couldn't.

I could do nothing but watch as Madoka and Tiffany began to scream.

The Queen was literally beginning to tear them apart.

And there was nothing I could do.

There was a scream in the air and Homura slammed into the Queen. She jumped away from the impact and landed back on the ground.

Tiffany and Madoka fell beside her. They weren't moving.

"Stay away from her!," Homura shrieked. And she held up something. Something I hadn't expected her to have.

A detonator.

The Queen looked down long enough to see the pipe bomb that had been sticky glued to her by Homura during their impact. She let out a laugh and reached to yank it off.

Homura pressed the button. It exploded. The Queen shrieked in agony.

Her hand and lower arm hit the ground. Unattached to anything else.

Homura reached into her belt and pulled out a gun, one of those big ones. The shots rang in my ear as she hit struck the Queen with round after round. Cyan exploded from the bullet wounds and the Queen shrieked again and again as the bullets tore into her body. She tumbled back to the ground, the stump of her right arm flailing helplessly and her left arm barely breaking her fall.

Homura stepped up to her and, without a word, emptied the last bullets in the clip into the Queen's head.

The Queen's body slumped to the floor.

I tried to move. I began to.

And the Queen laughed.

"Iron weapons," she purred. Suddenly she was whole again, standing over Madoka and Tiffany, and from my position I could see the side of her face barely and the wicked smile on it. "With this power, even iron is nothing to me now."

She flung her hand and Homura went flying back and into the archway over the bridge. She hit the floor with a loud thud.

And she immediately got back up. Her bow came out and she let loose a flurry of energy arrows at the Queen, who contemptuously ignored them.

At least until the last one, which actually pierced her skin and drew cyan blood. The Queen stared at the wound and then to Homura.

At that moment, i realized what was going on. I saw the black growing on Homura's soul gem. She was drawing everything into this fight, knowing the risk to herself in the process, all to protect Madoka from this creature that had sought to torment her. And that energy, that light from Homura's very soul, was enough to overpower even the energies of the Crack.

But I knew it wouldn't be enough. Homura didn't have enough left. All she could do was buy time, even now as she sent arrow after arrow into the Queen. The Queen approached her and, though her back was to me, I could imagine the cold fury on her alien features. "I'm going to rip you apart."

My mind raced. There had to be a way. A way to beat the Queen in this form. Sealing the Crack would work, but even my growing experience with doing it quickly would take too long, and I'd need help. I needed more time. I needed someone, something, that could face the Queen head on.

I swallowed when I realized what it would require. And what the risk would be. And with the Queen's attention off of me, i got up on my hands and feet and began crawling along.

Homura jumped just before force caused the ground beneath her to explode. In mid-air she somersaulted and pulled off the kind of arrow trick shot that I knew Ollie Queen would have been immensely jealous over, putting an entire spread of arrows into the neck and chest of the Queen and another into her back as Homura's jump carried her past the Queen. The Queen turned toward her and sent out a wide blast that clipped Homura, sending her sprawling to the ground. She rolled with the impact. I looked to her face. There was nothing but cold resolution in her blue eyes. And her soul gem was ever darker.

Either way, Homura was running out of time.

But she wasn't alone. The Queen let out a pained shout as Mouse jumped down from the bridge and brought two hundred pounds of canine power on top of her. The Foo dog snarled and snapped at her as he bore her to the ground and dug his teeth into the back of her neck. drawing more cyan blood to mingle with the blue light gathering around him. The Queen shrieked and forced herself back up, knocking Mouse off. She immediately took several more arrows from Homura, two of which made it through whatever barrier she had to dig into her shoulder and belly. "I'll rip your fingers off, one by one," the Queen vowed. "And then your toes. And I will progress from there! My people will speak forever on your fate, on the blood and the screams I draw from you, little witch!"

Homura pulled back on her bowstring to generate more arrows from her will. "I'm not a witch," she corrected coldly. "I'm a magical girl."

The Queen shrieked in rage as more arrows flew, and she attacked again.

By now, I was beside Madoka. I nudged her gently. "Madoka, wake up," I said urgently, keeping my voice low. "Madoka!"

Her pink eyes blinked a couple of times before opening. "What....?" Confusion showed on her face.

"Madoka, she's too powerful." I looked over to where Mouse was slashing at the Queen's calves while Homura recovered from another blow. "We need a new plan."

"What... do you want?", Madoka asked, her awareness returning.

"Forzare!" I looked up briefly to see Harry returning to the fight. His force spell barely made the Queen stumble. "Get clear!", he croaked, and that gave Mouse and Homura enough warning time to get out of the way before Harry unloaded all of his remaining charges in his kinetic rings. That much force should have been able to punch a hole in the kind of heavy armored plating Humans put on 20th Century naval ships. It did, at least, send the Queen flying into the embankment facefirst.

But she moved afterward, and in a wave of her arm Harry went flying again. He barely moved.

I turned away from the battle and looked to Madoka. "This is dangerous for you," I warned her. "But... we need all of you. All of your power."

She looked at me intently. "You mean...?"

"Yes. That part." I swallowed. "It's enough to overpower the Queen, even with the power of the Crack helping her. It might even be enough to shut the Crack."

Madoka nodded. "But it's dangerous, right?" She looked beyond me and gasped. "Homura!"

I looked back in time to see Homura trying to stand up again. Her right arm hung.... well, it hung uselessly, but that doesn't do justice to how wrong it looked. It wasn't just broken, but arguably shattered. The Queen brought her hand up and Homura began to lift into the air.

"Madoka. You have to be careful," I said. "If you do this, and you take too much... it might overwhelm your physical body. It'll be absorbed into that other you. And I won't be able to bring you back this time." I swallowed. The device I'd used had backfired on me the second time I tried to use it, and in the process it had destroyed the rare piece of equipment that had made the entire process work. Even if I could find another version of it, and find all the other exotic parts that made the quantum compiler work as it had before.... the vital component of an octarine gem meant that the odd forces of the Discworld might interfere again. There were no guarantees at all with using such a device.

There was a loud whine. I turned in time to see Mouse roll over on the ground. He was favoring a leg and losing consciousness.

The Queen held Homura in mid-air. She examined her mangled right arm. "Ah ha," she cooed. "That is what those things did to you. This body... it's nothing, isn't it? It's just an empty little shell that you use like a toy. This is the real you." The Queen forced Homura's right hand up and put her finger on the soul gem. The black on it was near to full now. "That's how you hurt now, isn't it? Here, let me see."

She ran her finger over the soul gem.

Homura screamed.

"Pain, little witch," the Queen cooed. "So much of it. I don't think I'll kill you after all. Not when I can do this. Over and over and over until you can't tell the difference between pain and pleasure. I'll make you love it."

"It has to be you," I said to Madoka, who was staring in horror at what the Queen was doing.

And then, because I can be just as stubborn and pigheaded as Harry on some things, I scrambled over to my sonic disruptor, took it up, and upon standing to my full height I pointed it at the Queen. "Leave her alone!", I shouted.

The Queen turned toward me. As she did so, her finger brushed over Homura's gem again, eliciting another agonized cry. She laughed. "Broken, silly little mortal," she said. "What hope have you against me? Even the Cold Queen could not face my new power."

"I won't let you hurt her again," I said. "I'll stop you."

"Of course you will, silly man. Of course."

She flicked her hand at me.

The next thing I knew, I was barely conscious and sprawled out alongside the embankment. Nagisa's unconscious form was right beside me. And everything hurt.

I just wanted to close my eyes now. After everything, after this long journey... I had nothing left. The Queen had become Power with a capital P, so great and so grand that I could not stop it. No tricks could. It was simple math.

The Queen of the Elves was better than me.

I should have accepted that.

Perhaps those thoughts were inspired by her. Or maybe by my guilty conscious over my hubris. Either way, I did nothing as the Queen returned to Homura.

She raised Homura up again. "I wonder what will happen if I...."

The Queen suddenly fell to the ground, as if struck from a powerful blow. She looked up in surprise, and in time to see the pink energy arrow disappear from where it had transfixed her belly.

Madoka was standing. Golden and pink energy crackled around her. She turned to face me and nodded, and as she did I saw gold light building in her eyes. Her suit transformed from the pink frilly magical girl dress into a long flowing dress of pure white.

And as she began to levitate in the air, wings formed at her back.

The Queen's face showed shock. "What are you?"

"She is mine," Madoka's voice boomed. My Time Lord senses made me dizzy from the sheer power circulating in the air. "This world is mine. You are not welcome here!" She held up her bow and fired it again. The arrow turned into a powerful stream of them as it loosed from her bow, the full power of Madoka as the Goddess and Protector of the Magical Girls channeled into them.

The Queen summoned the full power of the Crack to defend herself.

Madoka's power blasted through it like it was made of tissue paper.

The Queen screamed at the power that assailed her. She fell to the ground and scampered away, trying to get back to her feet. "What..." She stared at Madoka. Her wings remained stationary and her long robes trailed behind her as she moved in the air, advancing toward the Queen. "Stay back! No!"

"I want to feel sorry for you," Madoka said. She was drawing closer to the Queen. Around us, the power of her voice was bringing everyone else back from unconsciousness. "Because you're always alone. But you hurt people. I can't let you do that anymore."

"No," the Queen whimpered. "No no no..." She stood up, focused all of her malevolent will, and threw a blast of such power that I thought the air would catch fire.

Madoka didn't move. She... didn't need to. The energy slammed into her and seemed to go nowhere and do nothing.

The Queen threw more energy at her. More and more. So much that I saw the Crack begin to dim, as she drew so much energy from it that the Crack's ability to manifest into the base three dimensions diminished.

Madoka kept coming with a hand held out, absorbing every blow, and looking like she intended to take the Queen in her hand. The Queen started to literally shrink in front of us as the power of her personal glamour faded against the sheer awesome power of Madoka linked to her higher form. Her features distended, faded, and changed until she was a small creature, shaped almost like a little gray monkey, and fell back toward the portal to her world.

As she crossed the threshold into that world, Madoka strung her bow again. She let fly with another arrow.

I felt space-time bend and twist around the portal. There was a surge of energy on the other side.

And then it was gone.

I looked up in time to see the Crack seem to fade away.

That made me blink. Had the Crack somehow been... intertwined with the Elf portal? The loss of the latter thus affecting the former?

Madoka hovered over to Homura. Her gem was dark almost to the point of giving in. She looked up at her and her expression changed to show relief. "You're okay?", she said weakly.

"Yes." Madoka closed her eyes.

The white robe faded. The wings disappeared. She lowered to the ground and was in her usual pink dress again. She stumbled a bit and Homura tried to move to catch her, but with her right arm broken like it was she couldn't. Madoka had to get her own footing back, but she did. "I'm still here," she assured Homura. "Don't worry. I'm still here."

I looked to where Mami had stirred. "Those grief cubes?", I asked.

She nodded and took out a bag. She ran over and pulled them out, depositing them on Homura's gem so they could begin cleansing it. The other girls rushed over to join her, all five watching over their friend.

I took a step, to test my own strength. I didn't fall flat on my face, so I took another. By the time I'd walked over to her, Tiffany Aching was already picking herself up from the ground. "You're alright?", I asked.

"I'm... fine," Tiffany answered. She looked over to the girls hovering around Homura. "What happened?"

"Madoka is the guardian of this world," I answered. "She used the full range of her own power to force the Queen to flee again."

"Well, that's good," Tiffany said in acknowledgment. "So it's over?"

"It is." I looked around at the pixies and, well, pictsies picking themselves up. "The Queen drew so much power from the Crack that it appears to have temporarily removed it from the base dimensions here. Once Madoka slammed the portal shut..."

"They could come back," Tiffany said. "They'll need a way to deal with that."

"I know. I'll arrange it." I moved my neck. It hurt. "Well, I didn't quite intend for things to get this bad."

"Doesn't change that they did." Tiffany leveled a look at me. "This is why we witches try to stay out of these wizard things."

"Yes."

I felt well enough to walk over and help Molly up. She rubbed her head and mouthed "Ow". Harry was already getting up when I got to him. He accepted the hand with a sigh. "We're not dead," he said, sighing.

"Yes. Very observant of you," I teased.

"Threat's over?", he asked.

"For now," Tiffany answered for me.

"Questions aren't," I said. "That Crack had something to do with the Elf portal. It.. drew them somehow. But I've never seen a Crack actually contribute to a dimensional incursion like this. Usually it just pumps energy in or sucks it out."

"Lots of things could be different," Harry observed.

I nodded. But I had theories. Quite a few.

For another time, perhaps. We had cleanup work to do.




After making sure everyone got home safely, we finished at the Kaname house. The Kanames were still looking, if not entirely catatonic, very confused. Madoka got them into the house and took them to bed while the rest of us remained outside. Harry had enough strength to look like he wasn't aching and ready to collapse into bed as soon as I got him back to his apartment. The girls still had various scratches and cuts and bruises from all of the fighting. A sling kept Homura's arm still while one of the medical devices I had from Layom Station had been fit over her right arm, working slowly to rebuild the bones shattered by the Queen's fury.

"Where did those little blue men come from?", Mami asked.

"Discworld, along with Miss Aching here," I said, gesturing to Tiffany. "I procured their services at some minor cost. Among other things, Mrs. Kaname will need to replenish her liquor cabinent."

"So that's where you went off to back at the Kamijo house."

"Exactly. The Queen's mental powers might warn her of my plan if she got into anyone's mind. Had to play that one close." I looked askance at Harry. "Sorry."

"No, you had a good reason," he answered diplomatically.

"Yes."

"So that's it?", Sayaka asked. "The Elves are gone?"

"Pretty much, yes," I said. "The portal's gone. The Crack's been pushed back out of the main three dimensions. They can't get back in here."

"If you can find some iron to put around that portal, though, it will help," Tiffany suggested.

Madoka returned to us at this point. "We put Tatsuya into bed," she said. "My parents are going to sleep."

"Well, they know about you now," Kyoko noted. "How are you going to deal with that?"

"They might not remember," Harry said. "The Queen was messing with their heads enough that it's going to create a big cloud in their minds. Given enough time, without anything to make them think about it? They might decide they were kidnapped by a street gang or something and that you girls got them rescued by going to get help."

"Exactly," I agreed.

"It'll probably be easier that way," Madoka said. "It would be hard to explain everything to them."

"If it comes, it comes." Homura took Madoka's hand gently. "Are you okay?"

"I think so." Madoka closed her eyes. "I felt so weird though. Like I was... I don't know, drowning or something."

I nodded. "You briefly opened yourself entirely to that other you. The one who spans all space-time. As I said before, it's one thing for you to maintain the small connection you have now, just enough power to be another of the magical girls. Take in the whole thing and... well... you run the risk of getting absorbed into the whole."

Homura swallowed. "You shouldn't have taken the risk."

"I had to," Madoka answered. "She was hurting everyone. She was hurting you."

"What are these Cracks?", Sayaka asked. "You talk like you've seen them before."

"Here and there," I confirmed. "They're cracks in the fabric of reality. I'm not sure what caused them yet, I just know that they cause a lot of trouble and..."

"And what?"

I looked nervously at Harry before addressing Kyoko's question. "I've found that they usually result in something coming through. Usually from my species' home cosmos. This is the first time it was something else."

"Yeah, that doesn't sound good," Harry muttered.

"What's wrong, Mister Dresden?", Mami asked.

"Had a Crack in my world too," he explained. "We closed it a few years ago, but there's no telling if something came through before we did."

"Exactly my worry," I said.

"Don't worry, Doc, I've been keeping my ear to the ground," Harry answered.

"I know." i looked away for a moment. "What worries me are the Cracks themselves. I've yet to figure out what they mean. What caused them. All I know is... things are getting more dangerous."

"Do you know if it was the Crack that helped the Elves invade us?"

"It may have attracted their attention, yes," I said. I frowned. "Given what the Queen said, that's even highly likely."

"We'll keep an eye on it," Mami promised. "And we'll call you if anything else happens."

"Yes, thank you." I looked back to the TARDIS and sighed. In the distance I could hear the Feegles rummaging through the library. I wasn't worried about theft there. Feegles stealing books? Tiffany was more likely to steal them. "Well, I need to get a bunch of violent little blue fellows home before they decide to start trying to strip my TARDIS for spare parts."

"And I have an expecting mother to check up on," Tiffany added.

The other girls blinked. "Wait, you what?", Kyoko asked.

"It's what I do," Tiffany answered. "People in my Hills sometimes need someone to take care of them. People who can't bend anymore, who can't eat solid food, or who are bedridden with illness. Taking care of them is my responsibility as their witch."

There was the slightest flicker in Homura's eyes as the TARDIS translated that.

"Don't you girls do anything like that?", Tiffany asked. "You say this city is your's, and it's certainly too big for even the best witch to hold alone as a steading."

"We fight wraiths, that's it," Sayaka replied.

Tiffany didn't quite seem to like that response. "Ah. You fight monsters. Another witch duty." Her expression was whimsical. "But only some of the time."

"Actually, it might not hurt to help the people of Mitakihara in those ways," Mami said. "When we can."

Tiffany nodded. "I won't tell you girls how to handle your steading. But if you have questions, I'm sure the Doctor can relay them." And with that said, she stepped into the TARDIS.

I looked back and focused on Homura. "Different terminologies," I said. "The witches in her world are mostly there to help care for people in the steadings where they live. Frankly they spend more of their time doing nursing work or conflict mediation than they do casting magic and fighting gribblies."

"I see." Homura nodded. "She seemed quite capable."

"Yes, very." I nodded to them. Harry had already returned to the TARDIS as well, leaving me alone with them. "Well, I need to get them all home, and check up on Liara. Call if you have any problems."

"We will," Sayaka assured me.

I went to the TARDIS. Before I could open the door, I felt arms wrap around my waist. I twisted and knelt down to accept Madoka's hug with one of my own. "Thank you," she said to me, with tears in her eyes. "Thank you for helping me save my family."

I nodded. "You're welcome, Madoka," I answered. "And thank you for saving us all. Do take care."

They were all waving to me as I put my hands on the TARDIS controls. I waved back before snapping my fingers and closing the door.

With a pull of the lever, I shifted us out.




Well, when you have brought aboard your time ship violent little blue men who will steal anything they can get their hands on and a bunch of creatures who will put you into catatonic sleep and watch you starve to death and decay so they can eat you, you need to have a good sense of priorities on which danger to alleviate yourself of first.

Which is why our next destination was a landing in the Chalk Hills on the Discworld. I was standing at the entrance of the TARDIS, Harry and Molly across from me and Tiffany just outside of it. Her arms were folded. Her lips were pursed. And she was tapping her right foot.

Arrayed around us were Feegles. Together they could have probably chopped us all to bits with their speed and strength. They were instead pushing and shoving and groveling in terror. "It's the Tappin' o' the Feets!", wailed one - Daft Wullie, I thought - as he pulled at his fire red hair. "Waily waily waily!"

Molly choked out a giggle. Harry's eyebrows were up a bit.

"I'm waiting!" Tiffany fumed.

Rob Anybody coughed and sighed. "We was jus' gaein' t' borrow it, th' lads like th' noise it makes."

I crossed my arms. Not that it mattered. The Feegles wouldn't have found me intimidating. Tiffany, on the other hand...

"There will be no borrowing the Doctor's devices!", Tiffany told them in a loud and firm voice. "They're dangerous and could do all sorts of mischief."

"Even this wee...."

I coughed. "I believe that's my kinetic potential absorber. Set it the wrong way and you'll create a field that will siphon all of the kinetic energy in a two mile radius. Everything and everyone will turn into a permanent statue. Stuck, unable to move, for..." I narrowed my eyes. "...oh, a century or two, easy, before the battery gives out. It actually prolongs its battery life by absorbing the stolen kinetic energy, you see..."

Tiffany looked back to them. "Would you like to spend two centuries unable to move?", she asked. "Unable to fight and drink and steal?"

A gasp of horror came from the Feegles. Within seconds I had the absorber back in my hand.

"Now get going, Jeannie will be worried sick for you," Tiffany said, not quite letting them off the hook.

The Feegles vanished almost instantly.

I smirked and, just to be on the safe side, triggered the TARDIS to do a full scan. Just in case, mind you.

"Allow me to apologize on their kelda's behalf," Tiffany said.

"Oh, no worries. It's my fault for forgetting to pack that away," I answered, pocketing the device. "Thank you for coming along, Tiffany. Your help was vital."

She nodded softly. "I know." A warm smile came to her. "It was certainly an interesting experience to see that Roundworld."

"I imagine so." I snapped my fingers. "Almost forgot." I went back into the TARDIS, opened a secured compartment along one of my shelves - securing it from Feegle tampering had been most challenging - and took out something. "Some nano-weave silk cloth for bandages," I said, handing her a package. "And garments, should you have the need. And a first aid kit. Instructions are inside."

Tiffany accepted the package without comment. This was how witches operated, after all. They never got paid. No gold, coin, or cash. You just donated them things. Useful things. And in the places they stayed, nobody would even think of refusing such a donation to a witch. Or, well, no one would dare anyway.

As she turned to walk away, I stepped out of the TARDIS and called out, "I would like to make a small request of you."

She turned and faced me, brown hair blowing gently in the winds coming over the downs.

"The next time you should see Mistress Weatherwax... please let her know that she was right about me. About me and my friend. We're getting better now, in no small part thanks to her."

There was a bemused look on Tiffany's face, as if to tell me, wordlessly, that telling Granny Weatherwax she was right about something was like telling a skywatcher that the sky was blue. You were saying something completely self-evident.

But she nodded acceptance before continuing on.

I returned to the TARDIS and looked to see Harry and Molly watching me as I went to the controls. I started flipping them. "Yes?", I asked.

"Granny Weatherwax?", Harry inquired, eyebrows raised.

"As it turned out, Korra and I needed a bit of headology," I answered. "She was kind enough to oblige me."

I thought about what she had said. That the Name had taken me much as I had taken it. This past adventure was further proof of it. Being the Doctor... it was my nature. The Name had made me this way, even if I hadn't set out to turn myself entirely into the Doctor back when my journey began.

"Ah." Harry nodded. "So, next stop is..."

"Nice little planet, only 15% of land over the water, inhabited by a number of very plentiful soft species so the drome won't starve," I answered. "Then I check on Liara."

"She was still asleep when I last saw her," Molly said. "Is she.. okay?"

"She'll live, if that's what you're worried about. Biotic power consumes a lot of internal energy." I reached for the main TARDIS lever. "Odds are she'll be famished when she wakes up."

"Well." Harry smiled. "I think I know how I can fix that."




"This is your fault," Harry growled at me, as we stood quietly in Mac's Pub, where Mac was getting our meal of cheesesteak sandwiches to go. "You gave it all away?"

"I had to pay the Feegles something," I answered. "Junko Kaname's liquor cabinet was barely enough to attract a couple of the clans."

"But... but.... it's going to take Mac days to get his stock back up!"

"Two days," Mac mumbled while getting the steak off his burner and pouring it into one of the sandwiches.

Harry moaned in irritation. "You've ruined my entire post-fight-for-my-life routine here, Doc."

"I know," I said, shrugging. "I could make a stop by Timbiqui...."

"That stuff was good, but it wasn't Mac's. It's Mac's that makes the entire recovery process work." Harry sighed. Mac put the last sandwich in the bag and he picked it up while I paid. Granted, I paid with one of my special credit cards. The kind that effectively print electronic money in a 21st Century economy.

Oh, don't look at me like that. It's not like I'm going to crash the economy with inflation by buying everyone a meal.

We returned to the TARDIS. By the time we did, Harry decided that Timbiqui Dark was acceptable after all.




We arrived at the house where Harry had his basement apartment loaded with the drinks and food. And lots of pizza as a victory bonus for Toot-toot and his little pixie army, but that would go into the yard later. Otherwise Harry would have to explain to his landlady, who was outside and waving at us, why he was leaving pizza in the backyard where animals might presumably get into it.

I'd met her before, actually. Harry's landlady, Mrs. Spunkelcrief, was a delightful old lady, but quite bad with hearing. Harry and I had been required to work in convincing her I was his cousin from England in town on business and not... well.... I do remember the bemused look on Katherine's face during that conversation.

Liara was seated in the couch. She was awake now and already eating one of the Asari dishes we kept squirreled away on the TARDIS, but given all of the biotics she had been tossing to and fro, I wasn't under any illusion that she wouldn't be devouring at least one of the sandwiches as well. Seated on the floor near her was Mouse, enjoying a heaping bowl of what Harry affectionately called "Super Doggy Kibble", or essentially kibble that I bought from Layom Station and gave to him on my occasional visits. Mister, as usual, was perched on one of the shelves and looked down upon us with haughty feline indifference.

As Harry raised his wards again Molly came up from the trapdoor leading to Harry's basement lab. "Oh, good, I'm starving," she said.

Within minutes we were partaking. I had not had much occasion to enjoy Mac's cooking before, and I had yet to enjoy his signature beer, so the Timbiqui Dark was our substitute. Liara eyed it very carefully. "This isn't like anything my father would make, is it?"

"Not at all," I promised. "No Head Butts."

Liara took a cautious swig and, seeing I was right, she started to drink from it at a normal pace.

"'Head butt'?", Harry inquired.

"A drink that Liara's father, Matriarch Aethyta, subjected us to," I explained.

"Her father is called Matriarch?", Molly asked.

"Why is it that Humans always get like that?", Liara moaned.

"Translation issues," I remarked. I looked to her. "Mono-gendered species, Molly. In Asari culture, the father is whomever caused the mother to get pregnant, regardless of the father's gender."

"Oh." Molly nodded in understanding. "I see."

"So. The Queen of the freaking Elves." Harry whistled. "That was pretty intense."

"Yes it was."

"A good thing Madoka had all that power." Harry took another bite from his sandwich. He didn't resume talking until he swallowed. "And she knows Mab."

"I'm not entirely surprised," I said. "The Elves raid multiple worlds. It's entirely possible she once attacked Faerie."

"Yeah. Especially given she was pretty faerie-like too."

"It's entirely possible that their meeting was so... memorable for her kind that they started patterning themselves off as Fae," I ventured.

"Yeah."

We were quiet as everyone ate for a bit longer. "That's not the thing bothering you, is it Harry?", I asked.

"Nope."

"I know, because I think I'm worrying about the same."

"What?", Liara asked, looking up from her meal. As expected, her heavy use of biotics had left her ravenously hungry, and she had made the most progress in finishing Mac's culinary handiwork.

"The Crack," I said. "Most of the Cracks I've encountered have acted as conduits for beings or things to come through. The Gelth on the Discworld, the Silence in Holmes' England..."

"Wait." Molly looked at me. "You met Sherlock Holmes?"

I nodded. "Yes."

"That is so cool." She looked to Harry and grinned. "Boss, why don't we ever go on trips in the TARDIS? Imagine all of the fun stuff we could see. I mean, given what the Doc's said, you could even meet Spider-Man or something."

Harry grimaced. "It was hard enough on my brain having an actual Jedi show up in my living room," he sighed. "And we've got enough problems here, Grasshopper. Gallivanting around creation and dealing with all of the other horrible crap out there would just make us more tired."

Molly gave him a disappointed look before tearing into her sandwich.

"So you're worried that something might have come through to your world," Liara said, continuing our prior conversation.

"It's been a few years since we sealed it," Harry answered, "but yeah. The Crack was in Undertown. Anything that came through could have easily slid right into the shadows and never been seen until it wanted to be."

I tried not to shiver. There were a lot of nasty people or beings that could have done that, especially from the Time Lords' home cosmos. Things that could hurt Harry and all of the other people I'd met here.

"Toot's got standing orders to let me know if anything strange happens down there," Harry continued. "Well, stranger, this is Undertown we're talking about."

"I see." Liara looked to me as I finished chewing another bite of my sandwich. My glorious, delicious sandwich. I decided I needed to buy from Mac more often. "Of course, if you do find something, we'll be there to help, right...?"

"Yes, very much," I said, having just swallowed.

"Good to hear."




We finished dinner and further discussions on what had happened. It was time for Liara and I to move on.

As we approached the TARDIS, I heard Molly cry out to me and turned to see her run up. "I almost forgot," she said. She held up a blue box with a red ribbon to me. "Mom made this. It's for you. After you came by for Christmas and everything, she thought it was something you should have."

I raised my eyebrows. "I... well, thank you." I brought the box into the TARDIS, set it against the rail, and pulled the ribbon to open it.

Inside was a purple vest, much like the vest of blue I was currently wearing. "Your mother knows my favorite color, of course," I mused. Feeling material on it, I pulled it inside out.

Along the interior of the vest, Charity Carpenter had sewed light ceramic reinforcement backed with Kevlar. It gave the vest a slightly bulky look, but only slightly. It wouldn't clash terribly with my current wear. I felt my eyes widen a bit and my jaw lower. "Really? Armor?"

"She still had some materials left for fixing Dad's gear," Molly explained.

"Molly, I, well..." I didn't know what to say. It was something I simply... never bothered with. Body armor?

My right side lit up with phantom pain as I remembered the grimhound's claws raking my flesh. This armor would have at least deflected that attack, if not stopped it entirely.

"I put some defensive enchantments on it too," Molly said. "Actually, it was a bit of a test that Harry assigned me after I showed it to him. I'm still learning my way through it so the spells don't make it as tough as Harry's duster. But it should help a bit. Mom's insisting you should have it. Since you're an official adopted uncle and everything, I mean. Can't have the Jawas losing their crazy uncle because he's not wearing body armor while fighting monsters, right?"

I held up the vest. Liara stepped up from where she'd been standing and put a hand on it. "It looks good," she said. "And you could use the body armor."

I considered it. I... didn't wear armor. Not unless I was in the middle of a trick or scheme or something. It... it was just something I didn't do.

It was, well, I suppose it was rather foolish of me, wasn't it?

I smiled at Molly and looked to Liara. "Please, hold my jacket?" I slid out of my purple jacket - a replacement for the one the grimhounds had ripped up, and removed the blue vest below it. I put on the new vest. It was slightly bulkier than I was used to, but not in any bad way. I buttoned it and accepted my jacket back from Liara. As I put it back on, I said, "Thank your mother for me, will you? A shame you can't use cameras to give your mother a photograph."

"Actually." Liara held up her forearm. At a mental command her omnitool appeared. "Why don't you two stand together? Most of my experience is taking pictures of artifacts, so we need to keep this simple."

Molly's face beamed with delight. And we stood side-by-side for the picture.

It was only after Liara took it that I found out Harry had slipped up behind us and, true to form, given me bunny ears.

It was actually quite funny, now that I think about it. And a fitting cap to the entire adventure.

”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "The Power of a Name" - Dr. Who Multi-Crossover SI Series

Postby Steve » 2017-05-06 09:00am

Short 38 - Hypothetically Speaking

I had a loose end left back on Madoka's world, following that whole adventure with the Elves.

Liara was getting some much needed rest after we departed Harry's Chicago when I brought us back to Madoka's world. Not Mitakihara this time, but rather Chicago in that world. The Botanical Gardens, to be precise.

And there, I sent out a message before leaving the TARDIS and waiting patiently. For fun and effect, I chose some headwear; my battered fez. Because no, I don't care what Harry or Liara say, fezzes are cool.

A few more minutes passed before I heard a high-pitched voice speak. "Greetings, Doctor," said the Incubator who emerged from a hedge somehow. "We are most grateful for your assistance in the matter of the dimensional crack at Mitakihara."

"I imagine so," I said. I looked down at the cutesy alien biodrone. "I wanted to talk to you about that, actually. A few thoughts I've had."

"Yes?"

I allowed myself a small grin. "Your species is fairly advanced, so I would appreciate your... thoughts on a little hypothetical I've got running in my head." I held a hand up thoughtfully. "The Crack in the Universes forms in Mitakihara. Somehow, it actually draws the attention of a parasite dimension controlled by a powerful sentient being. Said being exploits the Crack and tries to forcefully merge her parasite dimension into this one." I moved my hand slightly. "The question is how. How did the Elves find the Crack like they did? It's not a normal weak point in the dimensional skein. You need quantum variability fields and similar phenomena for that."

"Truly a mystery, Doctor."

"Indeed." I started pacing a little. "However, let's imagine - hypothetically speaking - there was a civilization sophisticated enough to detect the Crack. Let's say they discover its release of energy into this dimension. Could they, if they wanted more of it, have attempted to artificially deepen the Crack?"

Kyubey tilted his head. "It seems a logical concept, hypothetically speaking."

"Yes." I kept up my pacing. "So, the question is... if this hypothetical civilization did so, could they have attracted the Elves to this location by drawing in the power from outside of standard space-time? Like a moth to the flame, maybe? Soon enough here the Queen is, and all these people could do was wait until someone more capable to deal with the Queen came around."

Kyubey was quiet for a moment. "That sounds like an interesting possibility," he said. "Such a civilization would be unlikely to have intended such a result. Their hypothetical purpose was to gain energy. The dimensional disturbances of the Elf invasion prevented this process and endangered this planet."

"Yes," I concurred. I stopped pacing and looked at Kyubey. I kept my gaze level. "A reasonable consideration." I felt the smile fade a little from my face. "It would have been very unwise of them to make such an attempt. Why would they do so? Why would they need such energy? Presumably, given their level of knowledge in dimensional disturbances and the like, they already had the energy they needed in some way or another.

Kyubey didn't miss a beat. "Perhaps they felt they needed more energy"

"I see. That's rather greedy, isn't it, though?" I shook my head. "Presumably they already had plenty of such. Especially if, say, another advanced being granted them the means to, if not produce energy, access peculiar space-times that let them accomplish the goals for which they need such power."

"That's quite an interesting hypothetical scenario, Doctor," Kyubey said. "Have you see any proof about whether such a hypothetical situation could have actually happened?"

"Nothing entirely concrete," I admitted. "Some remarks from the Elf Queen, I guess." I put my hands behind my back. "Thank you for your input. It was welcome." I turned to head to the TARDIS, but stopped and looked back. "I have one more hypothetical, actually."

"Oh?"

"Yes. Hypothetically speaking, if a civilization did such, they would probably not want to do it again," I answered calmly. "They would recognize the wisdom in leaving the Crack alone. They would hopefully know to make do with the plentiful means they were provided, and to abide by any deals made in conjunction with that. Otherwise, its likely that any other parties in the hypothetical agreement would become a tad.... upset with them. And they may find themselves facing a power they would have done well to avoid angering." I felt my smile turn a little wolfish. "Hypothetically."

There was silence for about ten seconds. "A reasonable consideration, hypothetically," the Incubator finally admitted. Or conceded, given its tone of voice. "That hypothetical civilization would indeed take such wisdom into account."

"I'm glad we could have this discussion," I said pleasantly, although I wasn't able to quite keep the chill out of my face. I tipped my fez to Kyubey. "Its always good to explore situations hypothetically. Keeps the brain sharp."

And without saying anything else, I returned to the TARDIS and left.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik


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